John Lavisky, the City of Lighthouse Point’s City Administrator for the last two decades, will be posthumously honored as a Keeper at the city’s Keeper Days Weekend in February. Lavisky, who died Oct. 13 after battling an extended illness, served the city for 28 years, first as a fire chief, then as city administrator. On Nov. 2, at the city’s Heroes’ Memorial, remembrance services were held for Lavisky, 69, who was revered by several city commissioners for his dedication to public service, archival memory and extensive knowledge about the city.
“John ran our city for 21 years,” said Mayor Kyle Van Buskirk, “His institutional knowledge about the city and its history was unbelievable. He was really like the Google of Lighthouse Point.”
Whenever Van Buskirk went to Lavisky with a question, the Mayor says he was welcomed heartily by Lavisky, who was usually carrying a folder full of material to explain the backstory of any particular issue.
“He was the guy you went to,” Van Buskirk said. “You called him, and he would then do his thing as a city administrator, finding out the solution, figuring out the problem, giving you all the backstory.”
City commissioner Sandy Johnson echoed Van Buskirk’s sentiment.
“There was never a time for me that John did not drop whatever he was doing to assist me in whatever I needed,” she said. “John was such a driving force in our city for so many years. He was hardworking, loyal and totally devoted to his job. The other side of John was the family man, with a loving wife, two daughters and seven adorable grandchildren. Somehow he managed his unconditional commitment to his job and still had time to be husband, dad and grandpa extraordinaire.”
In his last months as City Administrator, Mayor Van Buskirk says Lavisky was on fire for pushing through unfinished city business. He wanted to leave a legacy.
“We were setting the City of Lighthouse point up for the next 20 years of the future. We were assessing the vulnerability of bridges, paving sea walls, looking at funding initiatives, dredging plans, and all these studies were happening. We were finishing off rewriting the city code, which took about five and a half years,” Van Buskirk said. “I think that’s the reason, or partly why, John, frankly, worked right to the end.”
When news of Lavisky’s declining health came to light, Van Buskirk says the Keeper Days committee moved to make Lavisky a Keeper immediately. Keeper Days is an annual Lighthouse Point tradition of honoring influential members of the community. The weekend consists of a kick-off dinner, 5K run/walk, parade, concert, fireworks and family sports day. In 2024, alongside Lavisky, Kelly Crittenberger, and Dan and Leslie Vargo will be honored as Keepers.
To fill Lavisky’s position, Lighthouse Point police chief Ross Licata will serve as acting city administrator. Licata is no stranger to public service. He has been serving the City since August of 2003 when was sworn in as Police Chief by then Mayor Fred Schorr. Prior to that, he worked for the Delray Beach Police Department for 26 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Palm Beach Atlantic University and is a graduate of the 197th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He also attended the Senior Management Institute for Police at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
“I think Ross is doing an exceptionally good job,” said Van Buskirk. “I think he will continue to do a phenomenal job as our city administrator.”
The 2024 Keeper Days celebrations will take place Feb 2-4. The theme will be “High Tides & Good Vibes.” The events will include a kick-off dinner at Galuppis from 6 to 9pm on Friday, Feb. 2; the Lighthouse Point 5K Walk/Run at St. Paul’s Church at 8am on Saturday, Feb. 3; the parade from the Pink Church to Frank McDonough Park at 10am Saturday, Feb. 3; a festival with bounce houses, live music and fireworks at Dan Witt Park from 5:30 to 8:30pm Saturday Feb. 3; and a family sports day from noon to 3pm at Frank McDonough Park on Sunday, Feb. 4. For more information visit lhprec.com.