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Construction of observation deck at Harris Nature Center underway

Posted at 1:38 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 13:40:11-04

LANSING, Mich. — Harris Nature Center Foundation officially broke ground on an observation deck at Harris Nature Center Aug. 31. HNC is a Meridian Township park.

The privately funded deck, estimated at $55,000, is tucked into the forest by about 300 yards. It will offer unobtrusive views to nature and wildlife. Completion is expected in October.

“The observation deck will be an inviting space, encouraging people to get out and enjoy nature,” said Jim Buscetta, president of the foundation board of directors. “It will be open to the public, and it will be a great place for use by the many youth classes and camps organized by the Center each year.

“We are deeply appreciative for the very special and generous people who provided funds for this project, which supports the foundation’s priority of connecting people with the great outdoors.”

At the groundbreaking, Buscetta also heralded former HNC Coordinator Kit Rich for proposing the deck prior to her retirement in 2019.

Among the private donations for the deck, three led the fundraising effort. Capitol Region Community Foundation provided a $25,000 grant that was matched by two Meridian Township families who wish to remain anonymous. The Community Foundation serves charitable needs and enhances the quality of life in Greater Lansing’s tri-county area.

The 20-by-20 observation deck will be 6 feet above ground, offer two commercial binocular stands, and will be handicapped-accessible via a 5-by-72 ramp that wraps around the deck. It is located in a meadow surrounded by heavy forest. No trees will be removed for construction. Plants that attract wildlife, such as milkweed for butterflies and brassica for deer, will be added around the deck.

Harris Nature Center Coordinator Kati Adams said, "The new Harris Nature Center Observation Deck will be ideal for school and scout groups, photographers and others to view nature in a different way. Its unobstructed view into trees and above the meadow can’t be done well at ground level.

“Meridian Township manages about 1,000 acres of parkland, and there is not anything like this deck. It’s a one-of-a-kind amenity for the township.”

Adams also serves the township as parks and land preservation superintendent.

Speakers at the groundbreaking included Buscetta, Adams and LuAnn Maisner, Meridian Township parks and recreation director

The architect is Swanson Design Studio PC, and the contractor is Exteriors of Lansing Inc., both of Lansing.

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