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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Signs hanging from trucks outside the Lions Hall in Hudson support a warrant article to allow the use of land for a football field.

  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Lillian Bellisle, left, and Dot Jacobs tote signs in support of a new senior center during the Town Elections Tuesday, March 8, 2011, at the Lions Hall in Hudson.

  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Stacie Sullivan lets her nephew, Dante Castellano, 5, feed her ballot into the box during the Town Elections Tuesday, March 8, 2011, at the Lions Hall in Hudson.

  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    A member of the Hudson-Litchfield Bears football team, 11-year-old Zach Tompkins' life was centered on family and football. He made this platter days before his death on March 8, 2010.

  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    The late Zach Tompkins, right, is pictured with his brothers, Christopher, left, and Nicholas.

  • Zach Tompkins
  • Zach Tompkins. Courtesy photo.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Zach’s field day

HUDSON – Tuesday was Zach Tompkins’ day.

A year to the day the 11-year-old youth football player died in his sleep, town voters ensured his legacy will endure for generations.

Voters overwhelmingly gave the town the green light to enter a 25-year, rent-free lease agreement with the Hudson-Litchfield Youth Football and Cheer organizations in Tompkins’ memory. The vote was 1,951 to 589.

The agreement opens the door for the Zachary Tompkins Memorial Field to be constructed on 13 acres the town owns off Industrial Drive.

Zachary was a fifth-grade honor roll student at Presentation of Mary Academy.

He loved the New England Patriots and played for the Hudson-Litchfield Bears. He died in his sleep March 8, 2010, of cardiac arrest due to an unknown cause.

“Somebody from the Bears family has been here all day long,” said Michael Tompkins, Zach’s father, as he stood near a large sign outside the polls in the final hour of voting.

The sign touted that there would be no tax impact to the lease agreement. Nearby, a group of kids – young Bears players – chased each other. The league is for students in grades 3 through 8.

As the vote was being announced inside the Community Center, Zach’s brother, Nicholas, and friend, Justin Carbonneau, nervously leaned over a table, their hands clasped in anticipation. The boys had been waiting an hour for the vote tally.

The room erupted in cheers when the results were read.

“I said, ‘yea!’ and ‘woo!’ said Nicholas Tompkins, a third-grader at Presentation of Mary Academy.

Before he died, Zachary had spoken often of building a new field for his football team. Family, friends and others responded to the cause by donating money and helping organize fundraisers, including a “Zach Attack” 5K Road Race in August.

The Tompkins family and organizers intend to construct two football fields, a baseball diamond, and an ice rink for winter.

There will also be surround sound for game announcements and music and an auxiliary building.

Standing with Tompkins was Scott Wilson, vice president of the Bears.

“I wish I could have voted,” said Wilson, a Litchfield resident. “We have the Litchfield contingency doing what we can.”

With the lease agreement approved, the organization will be responsible for the maintenance of the property. The anticipated date of completion for Zachary Tompkins Memorial Field is September.

The playing area will also be a “testament” to Zachary and what he was about, his mother said.

Also in town voting, Ted Luszey defeated Marilyn McGrath, 1,139 to 1,076, to replace outgoing Selectman Ken Massey.

Voters also approved a $28.26 million operating budget for the next fiscal year beginning in July, by 1,704 to 771.

Voters also approved raising $150,000 for design plans for a senior center and facility for Hudson Community TV, 1,724 to 813.

Late last year, selectmen had considered placing a proposal for building construction on this year’s ballot, but eventually realized they still had work to accomplish after apparently not being satisfied with a previous design for a building that only would have accommodated seniors.

Although voter turnout was low, proponents of the senior center had a strong presence throughout the day, carrying signs urging residents to approve Article 12.

“It’s been a little slow,” said Lucille Boucher, a member of the Hudson Seniors Board and the organization’s former president. “A lot of elderly have been out to vote.”

Seniors meet twice a week at the Community Center, the polling place, but they can’t meet there in the summer because a youth recreation program occupies the building.

The proposed center would also include space for selectmen to meet.

Because the center will be handicap accessible, that will make it easier for all residents to attend meetings and will free up space now in cramped Town Hall, she said.

Voters also weighed in on the operating budget, which included a controversial move by selectmen to include raises for department heads.

Selectmen had placed the $32,516 for raises into the operating budget during the budget creation process earlier in the year.

But the municipal Budget Committee, which has final say on budget proposals, removed the item before Deliberative Session and urged selectmen to offer it as a separate ballot question so that voters could see it in detail.

But selectmen stuck to the same course last month at Deliberative Session, offering to place it within the operating budget because they said a similar proposal had failed several years ago.

Among the leadership positions that will see salary increases would be the police and fire chiefs, the assistant town administrator, road agent and financial director.

Selectmen said these non-union leadership positions had seen their salaries nearly matched by those of unionized supervisory positions that are lower on the management chart.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or