It could take years to untangle the bizarre web of associations and alliances that were all part of the collapse of Warren's Camelot, but that doesn't mean the city has to wait until the final curtain to begin contemplating the future.
Over a period of more than five years, the dream of a hotel/convention center had become so ingrained in the consciousness of city government, that awakening from that dream-turned-nightmare has left a vacuum in the city's vision for the future.
Impact Warren, which began with the Clark Street Garage, continued with the redevelopment of the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue and skidded to a halt after the Streetscape Project, produced good things and troubling things.
When the Allegheny Center for the Arts building project went south, and all of the other ancillary plans evaporated, it seemed as though the city had a development hangover. It was similar to the alcohol-induced morning after experience where the self-inflicted victim swears never to do that again.
The City of Warren should never give up on the idea of improving its lot by improving its lots. Doing so leads to stagnation, and stagnation leads to decline.
But, like for the person who over-imbibed, may we suggest as an alternative to temperance, a commitment to moderation.
Although it turned out to be an awful mess in the long-run, there was spirit - though some might call it naivete - that Warren could pull itself up by its boot straps and provide a downtown that would become as commercially vibrant as it once was.
The problem for a city like ours that has had such a rotten experience with redevelopment is that the whole concept becomes frightening. And, as a result, no one wants to talk about what might be done to keep the downtown moving forward, the fear of repetition lingering like a foul taste.
We should be wary of the bigger-than-life ideas, cognizant of our demography, steady and methodical in our research and planning, but steadfastly committed to bettering the city.
First step: Rethink the whole commitment to the hotel/convention center concept and take our eggs out of that basket.