New sports complex a boost for Norwich

Like the rest of Oxford County, Norwich township opens its fields May 1, as the weather permits, but it’s expected to take a bit of extra time to ensure the grass fields at the new sports plex will remain in good shape after they’re used.Hovorka said the municipality will aerate and overseed to let the root base grow, while the lack of an irrigation system means the fields will need to rely on spring rains to help.The fields will hopefully create a boost for Norwich Minor Soccer while also giving people another area to exercise in the township through the addition of the walking track.“We’re anticipating it’ll be a boost for them once the fields open. that’s what we’re hoping for. We’re very excited about the fields,” Hovorka said. “Because we’ve added the perimeter walking path, it’ll be well used by family and friends at soccer games. It’s also open seven days a week so anyone can use it. It’s a very safe and level surface. We’ve had positive feedback since we’re creating an area all people can use.”Hovorka said the project began shortly after receiving the trillium grant and was finished by late November before the first snowfall.After missing out in 2017, Norwich was approved March 1, 2018, and work began April 16, 2018, after reporting to council during its April 10, 2018, meeting.He said the project cost about $200,000, with $10,000 coming from Norwich Minor Soccer and the rest from the township’s budget, but was originally estimated at about $300,000. Hovorka said the savings came from different strategies to cut costs without sacrificing quality.The location is the former Norwich Golf Course, which meant the soil was in usable condition. Rather than digging up and trucking out the existing soil to bring in new product, the township was able to use what was there.The township lifted the existing soil and used a screener to sift through the dirt to remove large objects such as rocks and roots. The workers then put it in large piles to have it ferment before relaying it.Hovorka said that process saved about $80,000 and also saw several people in the community pitch in.“It was a big undertaking. … We had a few strategies to cut costs and local sponsors really helped us a lot,” he said. “Without those people, it wouldn’t have happened. We’ve got such great community minded people. We’re very lucky to have the people we do.”Now with an extra recreation space, the goal is to get as much use as possible for the new facility.“We’re looking forward to opening it up and have people in the community use it. It’s already getting some walkers which is terrific,” Hovorka said. “The more you can get community people involved in recreation, that’s the main goal. It’s been a common theme for us to install paved pathways to enhance accessibility and encourage people to use it and get active.” Norwich township will have a sparkling new recreation facility by this summer.The township plans to open the Norwich Soccer Plex in the spring, with its three soccer pitches in use by mid-summer at the latest. The recreation facility also has a paved perimeter track for walking and exercise.Pat Hovorka, Norwich township’s director of community development services, said the township had anticipated completing the project over the coming years. But when the municipality received a $150,000 grant through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, they were able to do the work in 2018.“We’ve catered to hockey and baseball quite a bit, and they have top-notch facilities, and we got some funding through (the) trillium (program),” he said. “We’ve had it in our budget for a few years down the road, but we fast forwarded it with the trillium grant.“We always wanted some fitness and walking trails, and it’s accessible with extra wide pathways to give a lot of room.”The fields are located north and east of the municipal administration building on Airport Road and includes one full-size adult field, an intermediate-size field and the mini-field. Parking will have access off of Airport Road to the east of the two new pitches.The first steps began a few years ago when the municipality created a mini-field, but the trillium grant gave Norwich a shot in the arm.The township was able to finish seeding and fertilizing the fields before the snow came, and it will be adding winter fertilizer to hopefully create a root base for the fields to come through in the spring.“It all depends on the root base,” Hovorka said. “We’re crossing our fingers it’s playable by early summer.” Norwich Township will open the Norwich Soccer Plex in the spring, with the three soccer fields able to be used by mid-summer at the latest. The recreation facility also has a paved perimeter track for walking and exercise.Submitted photo

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