The City of Piedmont recently completed renovations on the Highland-Guilford steps, transforming what had been originally envisioned as an informal pedestrian pathway into a grand entrance to the Piedmont Park Cherry Walk and Tea House. After being closed for construction since December, the steps re-opened on June 2, 2023, bringing to life a project years in the making.
The City invites community members to a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the newly rebuilt steps and thanking the Piedmont Beautification Foundation and family of Denny McLeod for their support of this project. The ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27 at the new plaza atop the steps at the corner of Highland Avenue and Guilford Road. The ribbon cutting will be followed by a reception recognizing outgoing Commission and Committee volunteers from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Community Hall.
Steps redesign brings safety and sustainability to the forefront
The renovation replaced the exposed aggregate concrete and rough railroad ties of the former walkway with a reconfigured concrete stairway featuring multiple landings, lined on both sides by a decorative metal handrail. Newly planted trees and native shrub plantings frame the steps, while LED ornamental lamps illuminate the path.
At Highland Avenue entrance, the City added a small pedestrian plaza composed of fully permeable pavers – the first time such materials have been used in a City project. The flowthrough pavers bring a green infrastructure component, as they allow surface runoff to pour directly through the steps to the land below, percolating and recharging groundwater. Further enhancing the project’s sustainability, new plantings around the steps are supported by a water efficient drip irrigation system.
The City initiated the renovation in 2020 in response to a report of a community member tripping and falling on the former stairs. Before the renovation, the aging steps had fallen into poor condition, with evidence of rot in the timbers and weather-exposed aggregate that became extremely slippery in the rain. The old configuration did not meet current building code or ADA requirements for exterior steps. The walkway was dimly lit at night, and without a handrail, the existing steps and sloped landings were especially challenging for elderly park users.
City thanks Piedmont Beautification Foundation and Piedmont Garden Club for their support
The Highland-Guilford steps renovation was made possible by a generous donation of the Piedmont Beautification Foundation (PBF), which contributed $82,000 and the Piedmont Garden Club, which donated $5,000 to support native plantings. The remainder of the project cost was covered by the City’s Facilities Capital Fund.
Memorial donations supporting this project were made to PBF to fund benches, trees, lighting, and the stairway’s ornamental handrail. Five engraved benches on the site commemorate community members Denny McLeod, Krya Simpson, David Perez, Phyllis Jayred, and Dee Dee Street.
The renovated steps were built by Bay Construction Co., a local business owned by Piedmont resident Yong Kay. Project design and construction management was provided by City Engineer John Wanger and project manager Dennis Shell of Coastland Civil Engineering.
With questions about the Highland-Guilford steps or ribbon cutting ceremony, contact Parks &
Project Manager Nancy Kent at email@example.com.