MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Sharon Maynard likes to bring people together.
Since moving to this town nearly five years ago, she’s mobilized neighbors by organizing the first meeting for what would become Mountlake Terrace Citizen Voices, a group she says encourages citizen awareness and conversation.
So far, they’ve had a lot to talk about. Group members regularly attend Planning Commission and City Council meetings and were instrumental in mobilizing volunteers who distributed petitions last year calling for limits to downtown growth.
In December, Maynard took the next step in her efforts to bring people together.
With help from neighbors Maria Quinteiro and Elaine Haig-Widner and some supportive small businesses, she published the first issue of The Broadcast, a double-sided community publication published on legal-sized copy paper every other month.
“The idea for a community paper came at our very first gathering of citizens in that group that became the Voices,” Maynard said.
Participants held a brainstorming session and their top three priorities centered on communication between city government and citizens.
In December, City Council discussions focused on the Town Center Plan, which council members approved in February.
“There was so much going on with the Town Center Plan that the citizens were not being made aware of that ee felt like we really needed a voice for the Mountlake Terrace community by the citizens and for the citizens,” Maynard said.
The plan is to publish The Broadcast six times a year, Maynard said. The publication is distributed to a list of 2,000 households, all of them in or near the downtown.
Maynard said she initially approached City Hall about including her publication as an insert with “City Happenings,” the city’s newsletter. The city declined the offer.
Maynard calls City Happenings “a mouthpiece” for City Hall and said she wanted citizens to have access to another point of view.
City Manager John Caulfield said the city receives requests from many groups seeking to have their flyers, newsletters or announcements included in City Happenings.
“The only groups or organizations allowed to put out pamphlets are the ones we already have a business relationship with,” he said.
Allowing other groups such access could create liability issues for the city, Caulfield said.
“If we start allowing that information in City Hall or any of our facilities, it can be interpreted that we actually support that point of view,” he said.
Recent articles in The Broadcast have looked at the Town Center Plan, the issue of density and primers on how to get involved in city affairs. Resident Lorayne Ham, an advertiser, contributes information on arts events.
The Broadcast also has a section called “Bear Hugs,” to recognize businesses and individuals deemed deserving of special recognition for contributions to the city.
Quinteiro, a real estate agent who ran an unsuccessful race as a write-in candidate for City Council in 2005, handles production for the publication. So far, she’s printed The Broadcast — which she says has a budget “in the hundreds” of dollars — on her home laser printer.
The volunteer-run publication includes articles written by Maynard and other neighbors sympathetic to its purpose.
Maynard and Quinteiro say they read the weekly Enterprise newspaper but felt a smaller community publication was needed to fill in some missing communication pieces.
“While the Enterprise does a good job with the bigger issues — it’s a bigger newspaper — Mountlake Terrace is a littler community and lot of people are out of touch,” Quinteiro said.
Production costs to pay for paper, printing and distribution, have been a “struggle,” said Quinteiro, who recently hired two high school students to distribute The Broadcast. Some expenses have been offset by advertisers, like Teresa Bain, owner of Apple Preschool in Edmonds, where Maynard works as a teacher.
“I like to support other small entrepreneurial ventures and Mountlake Terrace is one of the areas that we draw our families and our community from,” Bain said. “It seemed like a good business decision.”
Publishers are offering annual subscriptions for $12. Subscribers receive The Broadcast in their mailboxes. Eventually, Maynard said, the publication will be distributed to a wider audience.
“As we have more money available, we’ll continue to expand outward,” Maynard said.