By STEVE JONES Staff writer

With three projects in mind, the Common Council approved setting aside a group of properties taken for back taxes rather than attempt to sell them.

The council met Wednesday, with Councilor Frank R. Anderson, R-5, absent. The seven-member council is also without a Sixth Ward representative since the death of Councilor Anthony E. Darcangelo.

¿ The first parcel set aside for municipal use is an unnumbered lot on Floyd Avenue covering 6.05 acres, assessed for $35,000. These are the rights-of-way related to the former Wright Park Manor housing complex that was demolished a decade ago. Councilor John M. Sparace, R-1, said the site will be part of the Mohawk Trail, which will stretch from Bellamy Harbor Park to the state fish hatchery.

¿ Another is 511 E. Dominick St., a vacant 0.16-acre parcel once home to Marinas Ristorante before it burned down. It is assessed for $6,500. Sparace said this could one day be the home of an immigrant park as a component of the Little Italy District being fostered along East Dominick Street. The park would be built with grant money used for the district program, he said.

¿ The third is for a group of parcels — 726, 728-730 and 734 S. James St. The first is a 0.21-acre plot of vacant land assessed for $2,000, which had a three-family dwelling there before it was torn down. The second is also a 0.21-acre plot of vacant land and is assessed for $15,500, and once had a single-family dwelling that was also demolished. The third is a 0.15-acre parcel that is a converted residence most recently used for light manufacturing with a related apartment, assessed for $24,500. The plan for this group, said Councilor Kimberly A. Rogers, R-3, is for "helping to open up Gryziec Park," a site for which she noted the city has wanted to improve visibility from James Street for years.

Municipal Operations Committee Chair Louis J. DiMarco Jr., D-7, said he wanted to enact the legislation to keep the process "transparent." He noted that if the plans don’t work out for any of the parcels, the city can use its internal Real Property Committee to sell them, as is the usual process.

The council also voted on a ban of sale and possession of synthetic marijuana — meant to go beyond the state’s recent ban in order to prevent purchase through the Internet or other interstate methods.

Police Chief Kevin C. Beach spoke at the meeting about the "epidemic" of the synthetic drug. It has, he said, been linked in Rome to burglaries, assaults, behavior issues in students and suicide attempts. He said the Rome City School District has had 16 superintendent hearings related to the drug. Since it was legal, he noted, it’s virtually impossible to know how many Emergency Room visits to Rome Memorial Hospital it has prompted. He noted that the state’s ban "isn’t enough," as it does not alone give the city police department any enforcement powers.

One action the council chose not to take was on the topic of a proposal to sell the former Moose Lodge at 337 W. Dominick St. to Mark Schachtler of Deansboro for $6,500. Former Councilor John K. Ciccotti, 126 Third St., representing the purchasing group, spoke at the meeting to ask the council to delay action.