Jarrett Prairie Center's cedar deck ready for public

© 2018-Ogle County Life

BYRON – It is quite a view, that can't be denied.
When standing on the new deck behind the Byron Forest Preserve's Jarrett Prairie Center looking out over more than 400 acres of prairie, it is east to see why the staff is excited about this new feature.
“It's a stunning view, and a great way to enjoy it,” said Mark Herman, superintendent of education with the Forest Preserve.
The 2,600 square foot cedar deck is the final piece of the renovation that saw the museum get a complete makeover, which opened in October of last year. The total cost of the project, including the deck, was about $1.2 million, Herman said.
There will be an official open house hosted by the Byron Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 5-8 p.m. That event is for Chamber members and invited guests.
But Herman said the deck is now open and the public is invited to drop by anytime and check it out – and the view that comes with it.
Originally, the plan was to have the deck completed in the spring. But the weather had other plans, as a wet spring and summer slowed progress.
“It took forever because they couldn't get a full work day in,” Herman said.
Now that the deck is open, it has already proven popular. With the deck and inside space, there is more than enough room for large events, including corporate meetings, group activities, family reunions and, of course, weddings.
“It's called a prairie observation deck, but we see it as an event deck,” Herman said. “We are finding that more and more groups are looking for an experience, and a venue that offers something different.”
He said the space is already booked for the next six weekends.
The new deck is part of a renovated museum that has already won state and national awards. It is something the staff obviously takes pride in.
“This is a really unique venue you're not going to find anywhere else.”

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