A small sports museum outside the gates of historic Muzzy Field may become a reality.
Parks commissioners this week gave their initial approval to a five-year plan to acquire nearby houses and create a more accessible, appropriate gateway to the ancient ball field.
"We have to phase this in little by little," said Tom Ragaini, a commissioner.
Initially, the city plans to buy a house at 262 Park St. and tear it down. But it also intends to try to acquire the only other house between the ballpark and the road, a triplex at 216 Park St.
Beyond that, Ragaini said, officials want to erect "a sports building of some kind" near the gate to Muzzy Field.
In all likelihood, officials said, the building would house the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame, which has long sought a permanent place for its small collection. It could also be used for small meetings, they said.
Mayor William Stortz said he thinks the City Council will approve the purchase of the house at 262 Park St. soon.
But, he said, he doesn't want the sale to go through unless officials are ready to follow through later with sprucing up the ballpark's entrance and buying the sole remaining privately-owned house between the field and Park Street.
Otherwise, Stortz said, "it won't be very attractive."
The plan approved by the Park Board calls for buying and razing the 262 Park St. house in its first phase.
The next phase, which would take a couple of years, would be to plan for the sports building and a nicer walkway into the ballpark.
Finally, in its last phase, the city hopes to purchase and knock down the 216 Park St. triplex to allow for expansion of the Muzzy fence line and putting up the new building.
Stortz had pushed the park panel to create a long-term plan before rushing into the purchase of the house at 262 Park St. He argued that finance and other city leaders need to know what's envisioned before they take initial steps toward a vision for the site that hadn't been clearly defined.
The city's Real Estate Committee agreed in March to ask the mayor to negotiate with the three-decker house's owner, Richard Ferrucci.
At the time, Ferrucci sought $200,000 from the city, which is $7,000 less than its appraised value.
With the plan approved by the Park Board, Stortz said, he can finish negotiations quickly.
The 216 Park St. triplex has not been offered to the city, but officials said they want to make sure they are ready to buy it when it becomes available.
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