There was a small showing for a July 9 open house about the upcoming decommissioning of the slide at 12th West & West Howe Park, but upset residents took advantage of the hour allotted to protest.

Seattle Parks and Recreation plans to begin removing remaining equipment from the park later this summer, and then prepare it for restoration as a natural area to be incorporated into the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt. It will stay open to the public, and a concrete pathway leading down to stairs at 13th Avenue West will remain.

An embankment slide leading to one of two sand pits will be removed, along with retaining walls. 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.

While a number of residents learned about SPR’s plans during the June Queen Anne Community Council meeting, the restoration project has been on the books since the Green Seattle Partnership formed in 2005.

It was included in 2,500 acres of forested parkland identified for restoration at that time, said Patti Bakker, SPR planning and development supervisor in the Parks & Environment Division. Restoration of the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt has been a difficult endeavor, Bakker said, due to its steep slope.

With 12th West & West Howe Park being a priority for SPR planners and designers, it’s likely restoration work, including new native plantings, will take place in spring 2020, she said.

The slide is all that’s left of the playground equipment, the rest having to be removed in the late ‘90s and 2000s due to wood rot. The city acquired the park site in 1982. Wood stairs leading down to the sandpit at the bottom of the slide will also be removed.

QACC member Mike Warren said the equipment at 12th West & West Howe Park was funded with Forward Thrust bond funds — approved by King County voters in 1968 — and the removal of park space should require SPR to replace it somewhere else. SPR is adamant the park will remain, just as a public natural area.

SPR capital projects planner Libby Hudson said the parks department used Soundview Terrace to compensate for the lost playground equipment at 12th West & West Howe Park. The two parks are a half-mile apart.

“What they want to do here is a capital improvement change of use,” said Queen Anne resident Sharon LeVine. “That should trigger one of those big white signs.”

LeVine was upset by the open house format at the Queen Anne Community Center, and felt SPR should have had a real meeting, with a presentation and time for audience questions. Denise Derr shared those sentiments. The two say they helped inform park policy, developed in the late ‘90s, with former Seattle City councilmember Nick Licata.

LeVine said SPR came up with the plan for the park before engaging with the public.

“This is sort of a catch-and-kill approach to neighborhood participation,” Derr said.

They wanted to know what could be done to improve conditions at the park and keep the slide in place. Derr said her three sons all used the park, and children are overprotected these days.

Hudson said there is a similar slide in Mayfair Park. It’s a 30-minute walk from 12th West & West Howe Park.

LeVine doesn’t think the site being an environmentally critical area is a good enough reason to decommission the slide.

“The whole hill is unstable,” she said. “The whole city is earthquake-prone.”