By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Town Council so far appears unwilling to reconsider a decision to allow the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to install an electronic sign at Winthrop’s western border, despite an appeal from the town’s Westernization Architectural Committee (WAC) and a petition from by downtown merchants.
WSDOT had earlier proposed mounting such a sign, which would alert westbound motorists to traffic conditions on Highway 20, on the wood-frame sign that bids visitors goodbye near the ball field. The permanent sign would replace portable digital signs that must be towed to the site.
The council signed off on the proposal several weeks ago. At its Oct. 1 meeting the council affirmed that decision, after being advised that it was violating the town’s Westernization ordinance.
At last week’s meeting, Mayor Sue Langdalen told the council that the WAC had asked the town to reconsider the sign decision. That request got no farther than the previous one.
Brian Sweet, co-owner of the Cascades Outdoor Store in downtown Winthrop, told the council that he is circulating a petition among other businesses, asking the council to reconsider.
Downtown business owners “are all held to a standard … we would like the town to be part of that,” Sweet said, referring to Westernization guidelines.
Council members Mike
Strulic and Rick Northcott were skeptical that the WSDOT sign would undermine Westernization. “I don’t see it [the WSDOT sign] as being intrusive,” Northcott said.
“It’s what we signed on for,” Sweet replied. “If we didn’t do this, we’d be just another town and we wouldn’t have the economy we have.”
Sweet said this week that he had gathered signatures in support of the petition from about 45 downtown business representatives.
The petition reads: “We the undersigned business owners and/or managers request that the Winthrop Town Council not allow a modern electronic sign to be permanently placed within the Winthrop town limits. We believe that the town should be held to the same Westernization standards that we as business and property owners are held to and that an electronic sign that clearly does not conform to Winthrop’s Westernization ordinance contributes to the degradation of that same ordinance.”
The signatures represent almost every business on Riverside Avenue and others on
Sweet said an informal meeting to talk about the issue has been set for this week and will include WSDOT representatives, Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe owner Doug Mohre, Strulic, representatives from the WAC, and possibly Langdalen, who was invited. Sweet said he hopes there is still the possibility of an alternative, such as placing a new WSDOT sign outside of the town limits. Sweet said that other business owners who would like to attend can contact him at his store.