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The Elk River Public Utility District will soon have a new Winchester office.
The board of commissioners gave the go-ahead to ERPUD management in March to proceed with the purchase of a $250,000 United Bank-owned vacant lot on the corner of Dinah Shore Blvd. and Chamber Way for the construction of a new office nearer downtown Winchester.
The move represents an eight-block location shift south from 1416 Dinah Shore Blvd. to 635 Dinah Shore Blvd.
“Safety is our number one priority at ERPUD and the safety of our customers and employees was a critical factor in our decision to relocate,” said General Manager Mike Gundersen.
Where increasing traffic congestion at the busy Bypass Road intersection had begun to create backup issues for customers using the district’s drive-up services on Dinah Shore, Gundersen said that “the new Winchester office is strategically located to meet the needs of our existing and expanding customer base in Franklin County.”
With up to 40 percent of the district’s customers living in Franklin County, convenient customer access to the Winchester office is a major concern.
“Our new location will provide more convenient access for our customers and employees, reduce operating cost with a more efficient building design and floor plan and incorporate new technology to enhance customer service to meet the current and future needs of our customers throughout Franklin County,” Gundersen said.
ERPUD engaged Manchester consulting firm St. John Engineering LLC in April to establish the preliminary plat for the new 4,000 square foot office. The purchase was completed after that plat was unanimously approved in June by the Winchester Municipal-Regional Planning Commission.
Leading the project, Manager of Marketing Don Keele said he hopes to bring a detailed floor plan that includes an enhanced natural gas appliance and equipment showroom before the board of commissioners as early as October.
Once the plan is approved, the district will seek building permits and bids on construction. When complete, Gundersen says, the new Winchester office will be similar to, if only slightly narrower than, the one in Manchester.
At this time, there is no estimated date for completion.
“We want to move forward pretty quickly with this project,” Gundersen said. “We’re very excited about the possibility of having new offices.
“To be in the new office by the end of the year would be wonderful, or at least by July 2015 in time to celebrate our 60th anniversary.”
At the board’s request, ERPUD will call for sealed bids on the property it plans to vacate after the fair commercial value of the property has been assessed.
“Our new office project is an example of our continued commitment to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers, employees and community.”
ERPUD provides natural gas energy throughout the franchised area of Coffee and Franklin counties. The commissioner-governed district sustains its operations and expands the system solely from the sale of natural gas and related services without making a profit.