Former mayor sought more development during competitive era
Friends and colleagues of the late Williamsport mayor Stephen J. Lucasi recall a no-nonsense, business-minded leader.
“I worked with Steve and he made you know what he wanted,” said John Grado, a long-time city engineer and former director of streets and parks under Lucasi.
Lucasi was a two-term mayor from 1981 to 1988.
During this time, the Lycoming Mall was flourishing, taking stores away from downtown.
Lucasi sought a convention center along east Canal Street.
It was going to be the Canal Street Urban Renewal, Grado said.
“He wanted to see redevelopment and business,” he said.
Under Lucasi, the Sheraton Hotel came downtown.
While the urban renewal Lucasi wanted didn’t materialize in as a grand a scope as he envisioned, Grado said Lucasi made it “plain” as to what direction he wanted to take the city.
“He was fair, too,” Grado said. “He tried to occupy a lot of empty storefronts.”
“My father-in-law was a businessman and loved downtown Williamsport,” said Sharon Lucasi.
Lucasi owned several stores downtown, including the card shop at the corner of West Fourth and Pine streets and the former Ross Hotel across West Fourth Street from his business, Grado said. Becoming a city councilman and mayor for eight years, all he wanted to do was improve the beautiful city, she said.
Lucasi saw both sides of the checks and balances in city government, as a councilman and two-term mayor.
“He had to fight evey step of the way to get anything done,” Lucasi said.
“My mother worked for him at his restaurant downtowns in the Center City building,” said Denies Goliash.
Brenda Kennedy recalled the popular corner store.
“Sharon Lucasi and I used to go into his place to buy cards and flowers,” Kennedy said.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and council held a night to honor Lucasi at the council chambers.
Lucasi was dubbed the most respected voice in the building that night.
Lucasi was 93 when he passed away at his home on June 2.
He was in Shamokin but graduated from Williamsport High School, then served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He attended school at the Philadelphia School of Design on the GI bill.
He and his wife were owners of Lucasi Display for more than a half a century and the Lucasi building and Center City building.