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July 24. 2014 9:11PM

Efforts continue to make Zach Tompkins Field a reality in Hudson

HUDSON — Initially scheduled to open this summer, many hurdles remain for the Zachary Tompkins Memorial Field project, town officials said this week.

Named in honor of an 11-year-old Presentation of Mary Academy fifth-grader who died of cardiac arrest in March 2010, the public football field has been in the works for the past several years.

The field is being built on a 13-acre parcel on Industrial Drive, which the town is leasing rent-free to the Zachary Tompkins Foundation for the next 25 years.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in October 2012.

Around the same time, the state Department of Environmental Services awarded the town a grant to help clean up the site, which has been found to contain asbestos in the soil.

Cleanup efforts still have not been completed.

This week, town officials vowed to help make the field’s completion a priority.

Asbestos cleanup

During Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Selectman Richard Maddox said he met with project officials and members of the DES and EPA last week.

“This is a project that just can’t get to the finish line,” he said. “We are struggling to get monies to finish off a few areas that are still outstanding.”

The presence of asbestos remains a concern, Maddox said, and DES officials noted that recent summer rainstorms have resulted in some soil erosion.

“We were going to loam and seed certain areas this summer, but there’s still been ongoing discussions on how much fill we need,” he added.

Maddox suggested the town’s Highway Department place some turf over rain-riddled areas to “at least maintain what is there presently.”

He also urged town engineer Laurie Stevens to play an active role in the process.

“Ultimately, this is the town’s land,” Maddox said. “Without us having control of some things, we’ve not been at the forefront of where we should be.”

Board Chairman Roger Coutu agreed that the town needs to take more action.

“We want to realize this dream. It’s one we’ve had for a long time now,” Coutu said.

“There are a number of moving targets right now, and a lot of it is money-driven,” Maddox added, noting the process has proved frustrating for the Tompkins family.

Foundation spokesman Len Lathrop, publisher of the Area News Group in Hudson, said Thursday that asbestos mitigation on the site is nearing completion.

“Right now the asbestos is buried under the parking lot area, which we’re hoping will be paved soon,” Lathrop said.

He said that while the site was deemed safe by both the DES and EPA in late 2013, the amount of asbestos on the site was greater than initially anticipated, making mitigation more costly.

“The end is in sight, but we do need a little more money right now to finish what we’ve started,” Lathrop said.

Once that happens, work will begin on the site’s practice field, which must be filled and leveled.

Final plans for the main field’s construction must be made. Lathrop said the hope is to install artificial turf if funding allows, though grass turf is also a possibility.

As it stands now, project officials hope the field will be open for business in just over a year.

“Our goal is to have the Hudson Bears playing there in September 2015,” Lathrop said.

Fundraising events

Meanwhile, the Zachary Tompkins Foundation is continuing its fundraising efforts, with several large events planned.

The Zach Attack 5K Fun Run/Walk will take place Friday, Aug. 15 at Alvirne High School. Registration fees are $30 for adults and $10 for college students and youth ages 18 and under.

The Ride for Zach Motorcycle Ride will kick off Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Hudson Community Center, while a memorial golf tournament is planned for Sept. 15 at Shaker Hills Country Club in Harvard, Mass.

For information on fundraising events and project updates, go to www.zacharytompkins.org.

AGuilmet@newstote.com


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