Photograph by Rick Terpstra Photography
Mayor Mike Bradley announced on Tuesday that the Judith and Norman Alix Foundation have stepped up to the proverbial plate for the community once again, generously donating a hefty $275,000 toward the $1 million upgrade of the south playing field at Norm Perry Memorial Park.
Supported by Judith and Norman Alix who were sitting on either side of him, Bradley delivered the good news today at Sarnia City Hall, publicly disclosing what had been somewhat of a mystery about who was making this philanthropic donation to the future of the park.
When asked why they wanted to make this contribution to the park, Norman Alix said, “We felt that it was going to be a real good project for the sports in this town and it will be good for the economy of the town.”
He added, “That's an old park and it was going to be good for the park, rejuvenate it, and give it new life for many years to come."
Alix also said that he and his wife were very impressed with the money that the soccer club came forward with, but they felt that $275,000 was too much money for the football and soccer clubs to be expected to come up with on their own.
“It's a full time job for the executives and committees for these sports teams to raise enough money to keep their teams afloat, let alone go out and come up with this kind of money,” said Alix.
Judith and Norman Alix felt that it would be more beneficial for the community and the teams to put together the whole amount right now and move forward with the project.
“That's basically the reason that we got involved with it as soon as we did after reading it, and to the extent that we did,” said Alix.
The Judith and Normal Alix Foundation are also the benefactors of the new art gallery, named after the altruistic couple, having donated 1.5 million dollars toward the 3.5 million dollar restoration project in 2010. The gallery is scheduled to be open to the public later this fall.
Sarnia City Council were originally calling on community members to raise $275,000 for the almost $1 million upgrade before Judith and Norman Alix picked up the phone and called the mayor barely four days after the need for cash went public.
Bradley said at the press conference, “The donation will allow for the installation of artificial turf on the field which will extend playing seasons, increase the number of sports that can use the facilities and allow Sarnia to host tournaments that do date we have not been able to do.”
He added, “The new Alix Field will be the centerpiece of Norm Perry Memorial Park.”
Originally called Athletic Park, Norm Perry Park has been used for athletic activities since the 1920s. In 1933, the Grey Cup was played in what was then known as Davis Field, later becoming Athletic Field. In 1957, the park was renamed to Norm Perry Memorial Park in honour of Norm Perry, the legendary “Galloping Ghost” who was a Canadian All-Star player for the Sarnia Imperials.
Norm Perry also served one term as Mayor in 1939.
Norman Alix has fond memories of the park, watching the Golden Bears play in front of ‘big crowds’ walking and taking the bus to see athletic greats during the 1950s.
“That's when you had to walk or take the bus because people didn't have cars in those days,” said Alix.
He said in response to how much he’d like to see the park continue its winning tradition, “It's got a lot of heritage in that park and it's a beautiful park and this is going to be a great enhancement to it."
The City of Sarnia will contribute $162,650 from development charges, $150,000 from reserves and borrow another $100,000 from its capital reserve fund.
Pictured, left to right, City Manager Lloyd Fennell, Judith Alix, Mayor Mike Bradley, Norman Alix.