NORFOLK, Neb. (KCAU) — The Norfolk City Council approved investing a combined $800,000 in Norfolk Public Schools and Northeast Community College (NECC) for improvements to Ta-Ha-Zouka Park.

According to a press release from the City of Norfolk, in addition to the schools’ investment, they will receive 50% of their operating costs.

The improvements include team lockers, ADA sidewalk, repurposing the old restrooms, press box improvements, landscaping and irrigation, backstop replacement, and fencing for a dedicated fastpitch field.

“Norfolk Public Schools is excited to partner with the City of Norfolk and Northeast Community College to improve the softball facilities at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park,” said the superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, “By pooling our resources, we will be able to provide ADA accessible restrooms and locker rooms for our athletes and spectators, invest in our community parks, and limit the cost for our taxpayers. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when public entities collaborate with the best interest of their constituents in mind.”

The city plans to fund $135,000 to the project, and the Mahlon “Jack” B. Kohler estate is contributing $698,000.

“Northeast Community College supports this collaborative engagement as our softball team uses the city field as their home for practices and competitions,” said the President of NECC Dr. Leah Barrett, “Sharing expenses on the improvements to the field is a prudent use of taxpayers’ dollars versus each entity operating its own competition field.”

Some of the funding comes from a donation made to the city back in 2022, and the park will be renamed the Kohler Softball Complex once the project is finished.

“Jack’s donation is his way of giving back to the community he loved,” said Ron Kotrous, a personal representative for Jack, “He would be pleased to know many people in the community can benefit and enjoy the complex now and in future generations to come. He would be proud to know the complex will also be named after him. We would like to thank Northeast Community College and Norfolk Public Schools for their collaboration.”