Following strong pushback from the community, Seattle Parks and Recreation has paused plans to decommission 12th West & West Howe Park and restore it as a natural area.

The greenbelt restoration project was first tested with the Queen Anne Community Council in June, and received a similarly negative reaction during a July 9 open house.

The central focus for project opponents has been plans to remove an old embankment slide at 12th West & West Howe Park, which is the last piece of play equipment that remains there. The other equipment was removed in the late ‘90s and 2000s due to wood rot.

The slide does not meet current safety compliance requirements, and the park is a documented critical area for slope, soil slides and wildlife habitat. The entire play area is also not ADA-compliant.

SPR had planned to remove the slide and sand pits, stabilize the slope and incorporate the park into the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt, but superintendent Jesús Aguirre has asked capital projects planner Libby Hudson to take a second look at the project.

“So the superintendent and the planner were really focusing on, do we need to take the slide out? Is this really necessary?” said SPR communications manager Rachel Schulkin.

Schulkin said the site will be assessed by Hudson and her manager next week. While the slide does not meet current safety standards, she said, the same is true of play equipment at other Seattle parks.

“We’re doing a lot of play area improvement projects right now,” Schulkin said, “and this would be a flat out removal and not a replacement.”

Aguirre will have the final say on whether the embankment slide stays and current plans are mothballed. If the project is restarted, Schulkin said more public outreach would be conducted before work starts.

Don Harper, who chairs the Queen Anne Community Council’s parks committee, said SPR taking a second look at the project is good news, and he credits the community for making that happen.

“I think it’s just amazing, because it is just an amazing little pocket park,” Harper said, adding keeping the slide will ensure the park remains active. “And if you keep it activated, you keep, well, encampments out of it, quite frankly.”