The Queen Anne Community Council expressed displeasure at the loss of the small park, which includes an embankment slide.
The Queen Anne Community Council expressed displeasure at the loss of the small park, which includes an embankment slide.

The Queen Anne Community Council is taking issue with plans to decommission a neighborhood park and restore it as greenbelt space.

12th West & West Howe Park is tucked under heavy tree canopy on a steep, unstable slope, with access to hiking paths by way of a staircase that includes a hillside slide.

“It’s not just prone to landslide, it has known landslides,” said Libby Hudson, capital project planner with Seattle Parks and Recreation, during the Queen Anne Community Council’s June 5 meeting.

The slide is all that’s left of the playground equipment installed in the ‘90s, she said, the rest having to be removed due to wood rot.

The project will remove the park’s embankment slide, retaining walls and sand pit, after which the site will be regraded and restored with native vegetation through collaboration with Green Seattle Partnership, Hudson said. Located within the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt, 12th West & West Howe Park is a documented critical area for slope, soil slides and wildlife habitat.

The loudest voice in opposition to the project, which is slated for construction this summer, was from QACC Parks Committee chair Don Harper on Wednesday.

“That park actually is loved by the neighbors,” said Harper, who is also running for Seattle City Council. “They’ve gone in there before, actually a couple of times, and spruced it up.”

One resident living next to 12th West & West Howe Park explained that the cleanup he’s provided is due to the garbage that accumulates there.

“I’m constantly just picking stuff up every time I go there,” he said.

The resident asked not to be identified by Queen Anne News out of fear of reprisal by people he’s encountered living around the park. He told QACC he once had to call the police after one person attempted to assault him and shouted racial slurs.

He supports reverting the park back to a natural area.

“The sandbox has really become dirt,” he said.

Hudson said designs are still being finalized, and there will be a public meeting either later this month or in early July.

QACC member Robert Kettle took issue with the community council not being approached earlier in the decision-making process.

“This doesn’t read like a proposal,” he said, holding up a handout outlining the project. “It reads like a final decision.”

Sharon Levine, who is also active on QACC’s park committee, said SPR still needs to post a sign about the project at the site and contact neighboring property owners.

“We’re going to do all those things,” Hudson said.

QACC chair Ellen Monrad alluded to the issue of homeless encampments in the SW Queen Anne Greenbelt when expressing her concern.

“So, getting more greenbelt is not exactly something we’re going to like,” she said.

The 12th West & West Howe Park restoration is one of two major maintenance projects SPR is planning in Queen Anne.

No one spoke out against the more expensive project at Mayfair Park, which involves replacing an old timber stairway dating back to the ’70s, a retaining wall and deteriorated light stands. Planning, design and construction will cost $1.1 million, while 12th West & West Howe Park is budgeted at $100,000. Both projects are being funded by the Seattle Park District.

“We’re not touching any of the play equipment at this point,” Hudson said.

The Mayfair Park project is slated for construction in spring 2020.