SEATTLE - Seattle Parks & Recreations scrapped a plan to build a children’s play area at Denny Blaine Park, near an unofficial but popular nude beach.
The announcement came Friday following pushback from thousands of community members across Seattle.
"When we heard the plan had officially been scrapped, we were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief," said community activist Sophie Amity Debs. "It’s been a really hectic couple of weeks. We’re glad our space is going to continue to be wonderful."
In a statement, a spokesperson for Parks and Recreation said that feedback from the community indicated the park was not the right location for the park.
The decision to axe the project came days after hundreds of people packed a community meeting to oppose the proposal, joining thousands who had signed an online petition.
The children’s play area was funded by an anonymous private donor. Some viewed the $550,000 plan as a discriminatory attempt to change the way the small, secluded space along Lake Washington has been used for decades, especially by LGBTQ+ swimmers and sunbathers.
"We were worried," said Amity Debs. "It felt like the power of the checkbook might be trumping the ways the space matters to the community, but in the end, the city listened to us."
For swimmer McKay Gordon, the win means a lot.
"I come here almost every day," he said Saturday. "Today it was like an ice plunge. This place was introduced to me as a site of queerness, a LGBTQ little enclave."
He told FOX 13 News that Denny Blaine Beach is a special place.
"Seattle is changing," he said. "So, to have a really beautiful spot that’s holding onto a history, it feels kind of cool."
Seattle Parks and Recreation didn’t mention what will come of the privately donated money but did speak about the importance of safe spaces for community members.
"Many members of the public spoke to the importance of this space and use as a beach, and the cohesion it has brought within the LGBTQIA+ community," a spokesperson said. "Additionally, the community spoke of the unintended consequences adding a play area to this beach site would possibly bring. This is why we have a robust community engagement process, ensuring all people—including those who have been historically marginalized—have their voices heard and perspectives considered."
Moving forward, the community and city plan to create a Friends of Denny Blaine Park group to ensure future park success.
"Community matters, it matters a lot. Marginalized community matter and having safe spaces for people to be free to be who they are matters," said Gordon.