Business owners, leaders seem poised to give more coherence to downtownWarrenton's new spirit is one of the best things happening in Clatsop and Pacific counties. After a decade of major strip development on U.S. Highway 101, citizens and city leaders seem poised to give more coherence to Warrenton's downtown core.

As reported by Andrew Adams on Wednesday, the next steps of this process await the hiring of a new Warrenton city manager. But as Adams noted, the ongoing discussion is not waiting for a new manager.

The great accomplishment of the prior Warrenton city manager, Scott Derickson, was to invite citizens to create a new vision for their city. That is a good exercise for most American cities. But Warrenton especially needed that kind of exercise, for two reasons.

First of all, Warrenton is large. Its square mileage is roughly the equivalent of the populous Portland suburb of Beaverton. Whatever happens in Warrenton has considerable impact on the entire North Coast.

Secondly, Derickson replaced a city manager who had held the job for decades. That manager, Gil Gramson, had essentially supplied the city's vision through the property developments that he engineered. It was a remarkable accomplishment, but the city was ready for a new era.

The simple fact that Warrenton is tackling its wetlands and sewage issues is notable. If it will now create a downtown of some coherence and take advantage of its proximity to the Skipanon River, Warrenton would become a much more attractive place.

To be attractive in 2004 to the kind of professionals and businesses that most towns want to attract, there must be an aesthetic. The aesthetic of the big-box culture is inadequate.

We applaud Warrenton's strides. We await its new look.

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