Briana wants to help city reach its potential, especially parks

Sean C. Morgan

Bob Briana wants to help Sweet Home reach its potential.

Briana, 69, is one of seven candidates seeking four positions on the City Council in the Nov. 6 general election. Also running are Larry Angland, Greg Korn and Cortney Nash along with incumbents Diane Gerson, Susan Coleman and Mayor Greg Mahler.

Briana was appointed to the council in October 2017 to fill a vacancy left by Ryan Underwood.

Briana is a semi-retired sports official, with a background in a wide variety of jobs. He has one adult daughter and one grandchild.

He grew up in Massachusetts and attended Massasoit Community College, where he was president of the student council. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management at the University of Colorado. He has lived in Sweet Home for nearly 20 years.

He applied to join the council because “I got tired of people putting our town down,” Briana said. “I love my little city. I wanted to try to make it better. I see a lot of potential in this city.

“I think the parks system, especially the old Morse Bros. (quarry property), I see that as one of the best potentials to bring people here.”

People visit, he said, and they get to see the city, maybe move to Sweet Home and maybe even open a business in Sweet Home.

“We have everything here,” Briana said, listing hunting, fishing, the mountains, the lakes, camping and more.

The quarry property, which includes more than 200 acres along the South Santiam River and was transferred to the city from Linn County, provides a chance to capitalize on that with music, camping and a fishing complex, Briana said, praising conceptual drawings by the city’s staff engineer.

“We’ve worked on Sankey (Park),” Briana said. “Sankey’s going to be really nice.”

The city made some improvements at Ashbrook Park on Juniper Street this year, Briana said, and did a great job.

Economic development is at the top of Briana’s priority list, he said, and the city’s working on it. The city has earmarked $400,000 for the Commercial Exterior Improvement Plan and other efforts.

The city needs housing, affordable housing, and it needs more parking, Briana said. “There’s all kinds of things we need.”

The city’s headed the right way with the new department heads at City Hall, City Manager Ray Towry, Public Works Director Greg Springman, Community and Economic Development Director Jerry Sorte and Finance Director Brandon Neish, Briana said. “The City Council has a good variety of people that I think when we talk to the people at City Hall, they listen.”

When they put together the agenda, they’re bringing things the council wants to talk about, Briana said. “I definitely think the city’s heading in the right direction.”

Streets are “one of my priorities in the next four years or so,” Briana said. “We have to look at how we can generate some revenue to fix the roads.”

In the past year, many Sweet Home residents have seen their trash, sewer and water bills and property taxes increase substantially. In addition to an annual increase to cover inflation, trash rates increased another 8 percent based on China’s decision to stop accepting recycling. Sewer rates increased to cover a shortfall in funding and an upcoming improvement project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant; and property tax bills are increasing rapidly – the mayor’s taxes, for example, increased by 15 percent from last year – as compression decreases.

Briana said the trash rates are a universal problem, but he recently read about a man back east who is working on cleaning and selling recycled materials.

“It may take a few years until the right people, with the right engineers, fix this problem, and then prices will go back down again,” Briana said.

The Treatment Plant project “needs to be done,” Briana said. “I don’t want to raise water rates. I don’t want to raise sanitation rates. I don’t like to raise rates,” but projects like the plant have to be done.

He’s not sure how to stop the rising costs, he said. “At sometime or another in order to get things you need to get, you have to pay. If you want a new car, then you have to cut back a little on something to get the car.”

In the long run, the work should push rates back down, he said.