Local businesses donate home addition

By Suzanne Laurent This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Courtesy Eagle Tribute

LONDONDERRY — What began as a ramp addition to Bella Tucker's Lantern Lane home has now turned into a 2,200-square foot addition, complete with separate garage and indoor elevator.

Nicholas Middleton, owner of CUBE 3 Design Studio in Lawrence, and project coordinator Keith Boyle gave a presentation of the project to the Town Council Monday evening.

Bella, 8, is a South Londonderry School student who has been hospitalized since Easter Sunday after a life-threatening infection resulted in quadruple limb amputations. She is still at Boston Children's Hospital and faces a long road ahead of being fitted for prostheses and rehabilitation at Shriner's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia before returning home.

"This is a heartbreaking project," Middleton said. "We were approached by Bella's family to look at putting an elevator into the house."

Boyle said initially Jen Hamwey, a civil engineer from Windham, read about Bella in local newspapers and looked into building a ramp at her home. Because of the way the house is graded, a ramp wasn't possible.

"Jen contacted Allen and Major Associates in Manchester to ask for help," Boyle said. "They, in turn, contacted us."

Middleton quickly assembled a team that includes Anthony Nigro of Suffolk Construction Company in Boston and Derek Felix of Blackdog Builders in Salem. Many other local companies donated materials.

The design team approached Londonderry community development director Andre Garron about permits and septic system approvals about six weeks ago.

"What would normally take weeks, took days," Boyle said. "Andre and Richard Canuel, the building inspector, jumped through hoops for us."

A handicapped-accessible van has been donated to the family and the new addition will include a garage for the van. The team worked with Otis Elevator Company and got the price of the elevator considerably reduced from the initial $30,000 cost.

The elevator will go from inside the garage to two living spaces. On the first level will be a bathroom and room that can be used for physical therapy. The upper floor will have a bedroom that Bella can share with her younger sister Lola. A second bathroom will be connected to the parents' suite.

"We are letting Bella pick colors and materials for her space so that it won't have a hospital feel," Boyle said.

Other modifications to the home will include a farmer's porch for Bella to sit outside and hardwood floors to make it easier to get around. Because Bella likes to spend time in the kitchen with her mother, a portion of the center island will be lowered for her.

"We're making it so that the family will have nothing else but to look forward to when Bella comes home," Boyle said. "This is a project from the heart."

The entire project is being done at no cost to the family and is expected to be done by Nov. 1. Bella is expected to return home by the end of the year. Boyle said he did not have an estimate yet for the cost of the project.

Progress on the construction, a list of donors and building materials still needed can be found at bellatucker.org

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