Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Christine DeSouza
Assistant Editor 

For Sandi Solomon, Casselberry's future is her focus


Sandi Solomon

If someone needs to get something done in Casselberry, call Sandi Solomon. Running for her third term as Casselberry city commissioner seat 3, Solomon has that rare ability to see what needs to be done and gets it done.

Eight years ago, Solomon retired after 35 years of teaching elementary school in Seminole County. Wondering what she was going to do, she took a month-long trip to Israel. It wasn't her first trip-she's been four times-and probably won't be her last. In fact, she says, "If I could go tonight, I would!"

Returning from Israel, she went to a Casselberry City Hall meeting. The discussion was about getting rid of the adult entertainment industry that was choking the life out of this formerly quaint little city.

"When we first moved here 40 years ago, Casselberry was a very nice place," Solomon said. "Over the years the commissioners allowed adult entertainment to flourish, which caused Casselberry to go downhill to the point that, when I retired, people were telling me they didn't want to say they lived in Casselberry! They'd say they lived in Seminole County."

Solomon said she's spent 35 years "fixing up children" so now she would "fix up Casselberry." And with her energetic, "can-do" spirit, she has been doing just that.

"I wanted to make it into the place I moved to," she said. "And now, in the last eight years since I was elected, I feel I've made a difference. Anybody who drives through notices that Casselberry looks great!" she said with pride, adding, "I wish I'd gotten involved sooner!"

Solomon can only serve three four-year terms. This will be her final term if re-elected, and she has so much still she hopes to bring to fruition.

During her first two terms, she pushed through most of the changes people see and enjoy around Casselberry. Solomon is responsible for the creation of a bike trail in Casselberry. "We didn't have a bike trail, so I called city commissioners and asked how come? Altamonte, Lake Mary, Winter Springs and Winter Park have one, why not us?"

As it turned out, 1 million dollars was sitting in the bank designated for a bike trail just waiting for someone to ask for it. "So I asked for it!" Solomon said with a smile.

The lakes were also cleaned up-all 14 of them-and now kayaks and canoes are rowed on them. They even have a "Runyak Race" at Secret Lake Park-this year will mark the third annual event on Aug. 23.

Solomon also was instrumental in having over 2,000 new trees planted in the city, resulting in Casselberry being named a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor its commitment to community forestry. It is the 5th year the City of Casselberry has received this national recognition.

Another creation was the Casselberry Art House behind City Hall where several art classes are offered to all ages and abilities.

In addition to these "curb appeal" features, Casselberry's roads and sidewalks have all been resurfaced and refinished. "All this was done – and there is still money in the bank!" Solomon said.

Now there are three major projects in the works that Solomon had a hand in beginning and she'd like to see them finished:

Bringing Seminole State College Center for the Arts to Casselberry. About five months ago, Solomon found out that WalMart owns the property on 17/92 near Books A Million. They wanted to build a store there, but because of the fly over, it wasn't feasible. When she learned WalMart put it up for sale, she thought it would make a great college campus. She contacted Congressman John Mica and Seminole State College President Dr. E. Ann McGee. After much discussion, this past week the Seminole State board agreed to the plan, and Solomon is getting ready to go to Arkansas to meet with WalMart's board about the property.

"It's 22 acres from 17/92 to the library – perfect for a college campus," she said.

The second major project is keeping the Casselberry Golf Course Green. "The golf course is up for sale, and we want to buy it because we do not want development on it. We will either keep it as a golf course or turn it into a walking and bike trail – keep it green!" she said with much enthusiasm.

The third major project is completing Casselberry's City Center. There are 20 acres between the Methodist Church and City Hall on 17/92. "We are planning two football size lakes with trails and sculpture and two new parks to hold music events there," she stated.

Solomon and her husband, Irving, are members of Congregation Ohev Shalom, and three years ago, she and several other Jewish and Christian women founded the Zionistas, an organization that supports Israel.

Early voting begins Aug. 16 and runs through Aug. 24. Polls are open Aug. 26.


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