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Evergreen Academy Elmwood Park

This building at 3131 Taylor Ave. was used from 2014-2018 as an elementary school by EverGreen Academy. The voucher-only school is now being sued for over $26,000 by the Village of Elmwood Park for reported damage to the building.

ELMWOOD PARK — The Village of Elmwood Park is suing EverGreen Academy, the voucher school accused of leaving a rented building in shambles after its lease ended this summer.

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Elmwood Park claims EverGreen Academy owes the village $26,275 to repair and clean up the building the school had been renting from the village, in addition to several months’ worth of lost rent.

Currently, the total amount Elmwood Park would be seeking could cost EverGreen more than $40,000.

The building, located within the village-owned Taylor Complex, 3131 Taylor Ave., was used by EverGreen as an elementary school from summer 2014 until the lease ended on June 30, 2018.

The estimate of $26,275 was provided by B2C Enterprises, which also lists its address within the Taylor Complex. Billy McCollum represented B2C at a September Elmwood Park Village Board meeting. McCollum also owns Crown Jewel Academy day care, which lists the same address as B2C Enterprises.

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The complaint

Elmwood Park filed its lawsuit on Oct. 30, and EverGreen has until Dec. 14 to respond. If the school doesn’t respond, Racine County Circuit Court Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz may then issue a judgment.

Kathy Wells, Elmwood Park village president, declined to comment on the lawsuit. EverGreen founder Grant Meier did not reply to an email seeking comment.

According to EverGreen’s now-expired lease, the school was allowed to remodel the building, but the lawsuit claims that renovations were not carried out “in a workmanlike manner.”

The lawsuit claims the linoleum floors in the bathrooms need to be replaced because of damage; that multiple toilets, sinks and urinals were removed, but concrete used to fill in the gaps was not poured evenly; and holes were left in the ceiling.

B2C’s estimate also claims that thousands of dollars worth of cleaning is needed, including removing wires hanging from walls, cleaning and disinfecting almost every room, replacing cushions on hallway ottomans and removing mold from basement floors and carpeting.

EverGreen also installed several window air-conditioning units and vents during its tenancy. When the school moved out, it took the units but didn’t replace the windows or repair the holes in the walls, according to the lawsuit. Fixing that would cost another $2,120, B2C estimated.

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Why hasn’t EverGreen paid?

When Meier spoke to The Journal Times in September, he said he felt the estimate far exceeded the real cost to clean the building. The school reportedly offered $10,000, but the Village Board rejected that.

Meier also took issue with the school being asked to pay for painting several of the rooms, which B2C estimated would cost around $4,500.

EverGreen Academy no longer plans to pay for cleanup

The lawsuit states the damage to the walls was “beyond that caused by normal wear and tear,” which is why the walls purportedly need to be repainted.

According to the lease, EverGreen was paying $3,296 monthly plus utilities to use the building when the lease ended. As part of the lawsuit, Elmwood Park is asking EverGreen to pay for several months’ worth of lost rent, because the village hasn’t shown the building to potential renters in its current state.

EverGreen is still renting one building from Elmwood Park. Its middle school is operated at 3554 Taylor Ave.

EverGreen’s new elementary school, custom-built at 3351 Chicory Road, opened in August.

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Adam Rogan (SCHS '14, Drake U. '17) has been covering homelessness, arts & culture and just about everything else for the JT since March 2018. He enjoys mid-afternoon naps, loud music played quietly and social media followers @Could_Be_Rogan

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