Meet Victor Lukasavitz-and the Vision He Represents

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When Victor Lukasavitz was 13, his grandfather said he only wanted two things from Lukasavitz.  He told him not to bring any disrespect to the family name.  He also told him to give back to society and not be a user.     Since then Lukasavitz has owned a civil engineering company, with the last 10 years spent designing parks & non-motorizedVictor Lukasavitztrails and completing grants for the construction of those.  He is a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars and life member of Disabled American Veterans, being a Vietnam veteran.  He was chairman of the State of Michigan’s Professional Surveyors State Examination Development for 12 years.  He received Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors’ Presidents award in 1992, 1996 and 1999 for services to society and the State of Michigan.  He was appointed by the governor to the State Board of Professional Surveyors for a four year term, and was elected chairman and vice-chairman.  He was also appointed by the governor to the State Board of Professional Engineers for a four year term.  In 2009 through 2011, he was a member of The Steering Committee for Comprehensive Economic Development Study for Genesee County.  He was appointed to the board of directors for the Genesee County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. He was vice-chairman of the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Linden Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce, was 1998 Citizen of the Year in Linden.  He was nominated Citizen of the Year in Grand Blanc, and has been a member of the Michigan Department of Transportation Pedestrian & Bicycle Planning Committee.  He was chairman of the Linden Planning Commission, vice-chairman & treasurer of The League of Michigan Bicyclists, was on the planning committee for PALM and sat on the board of directors for the state bank of Fenton for five years.  He also served on the Crim’s SAGE committee for many years and helped develop Le Champion Pav’e” professional bicycle race in downtown Flint (named after Albert Champion, an important figure with General Motors, the spark plug inventor and a world champion bicycle racer.  The race later became the current Tour De Crim ride.) Lukasavitz also served on numerous other committees and during his municipal civil years he worked with communities around the state.     Not too shabby of a resume.  Huh? In Lukasavitz’s spare time he said he is an outdoor person.  “I’ve always waterskied.  I’ve been on bike trips across the country with my family.  I cross-country ski, snow shoe, hike, fish and just enjoy the outdoors,” he said.     About six years ago, a group of runners, walkers and bikers discussed how there are no local opportunities to participate in these activities.  Finally, 18 months ago, after years of discussion, the group became the LAFF (Linden, Argentine, Fenton and Fenton Township) Trails Coalition to organize the trail initiative.  “It’s a group of volunteers.  We have a passion for this.  It came about over a cup of coffee and we’ve asked other people to join,” Lukasavitz said.     Lukasavitz feels a personal sense of commitment to the LAFF pathway project because he sees a need for safe, non-motorized pathways.  He said in some areas people can’t afford a car or gas.  “I see people walking on sides of the road for a mile into town.  There’s no safe way for them to travel to town for life activities.  I often see a woman pushing a baby stroller on the side of the road and another couple that push a cart on the side of the road to get groceries.  They do it in dark clothing and in nighttime rain.  It’s not a significant number of people, but you don’t want anyone to die no matter what the number is,” he said.     Not only is there a need for non-motorized trails, but the public has spoken out on what trails they want, whether for alternative transportation or recreation.  In 2009, 2010, and 2014, public hearings were held throughout the area and at the County Planning Office.  Through them, the public selected their favorite routes.   Their first choice, which has an engineer who should be under contract by the end of April for, was Silver Lake Rd. from Linden to Fenton. The second choice was Owen Rd., and the third choice was Fenton Rd.     Lukasavitz said there will be many benefits to these trails.  According to national statistics, in areas with non-motorized trails houses sell for more money and sell quicker.  Also, businesses arise and tourism increases.  Active communities are also healthier.     In addition, Lukasavitz said there are other benefits.  He associates using trails and non-motorized pathways with happiness.  “I’ve never met an unhappy person on the trails.  They (people on the trails) are fun.  They’re exciting.  They get great exercise and great fresh air.  Everybody’s always smiling and saying ‘hi.’  The trails get people away from the video games to enjoy the great outdoors,” he said.     Lukasavitz said it’s fun to meet people on the trails, talk to them and see where they’re from.  He said frequently they know somebody you know.  He recalls an incident when he was bike riding in Wisconsin.  He was having conversation with a stranger.  When Lukasavitz said he was from Michigan the man said he knew someone who had moved from Michigan to Wisconsin.  Coincidentally, that someone was a friend of Lukasavitz’s.     For Lukasavitz, one of the most memorable experiences with non-motorized pathways was a 5 day ride across Michigan in which 700 people do yearly called PALM (Pedal Across Lower Michigan).  People come from all over the state and outside the state, bringing money into Michigan.   “You meet people from all over.  There are hundreds of rides like that,” he said.     The idea of building more non-motorized pathways is catching on in other communities.  The vision of the LAFF Pathways is to connect Linden, Argentine, Fenton and Fenton Township.  However, LAFF Trails Coalition has been contacted by the village of Holly, the village of Byron and other communities about organizing non-motorized pathways there.  Holly and Byron, for example, would like to each have a pathway connecting them with Seven Lakes State Park.     Lukasavitz would like to gain even more support for what the coalition is doing so the trail can be complete by Fall 2018.  “Support us in your local community.  Tell people from local boards and commissions.  E-mail, call or go to meetings and tell them you want trails,” he said.  Also, interested residents can fill out a “YES” sheet to state they support the trail.  This shows that Genesee County has the level of interest from local communities when the group applies for grants.  “YES” sheets are available at the Fenton Regional Chamber office, at Cyclefit in Fenton and at www.laffpathways.com.     Another way people can show their support is by making donations.  The tax-deductible donation fund is called the LAFF Pathway Fund and it is on the Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s website:  cfgf.org.  Supporters can also donate at www.laffpathways.com, a website which is updated every two weeks with concept maps and events.      Lukasavitz said supporting the LAFF Pathway comes naturally for him.  In fact, his wife said he listened too hard to the advice his grandfather gave him when he was 13.  At 68, he has been married to his wife Sandra for 48 years.  The couple has two adult children, Brian and Stacy.  As chairman of the LAFF Trails Coalition, Lukasavitz said “I’ve always been passionate for giving back to the communities…not just the one I live in, but the ones adjoining it.  We’re all in this world together.”     “The pathway brings opportunity for each community to provide a better place to live and raise a family.  It’s about connecting people and communities.  It’s about providing a quality place to work, live, play and visit,” he said. LAFF Pathway

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