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Google officials make big announcement during anniversary celebration

Peter Wilson, foreground, cuts the cake at Google’s 10th anniversary celebration in Kirkland. Wilson is joined by, from left, Kirkland City Councilman Dave Asher, Google employee Chee Chew, Councilman Jay Arnold, Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen and Councilwoman Doreen Marchione.  - TJ Martinell, Kirkland Reporter
Peter Wilson, foreground, cuts the cake at Google’s 10th anniversary celebration in Kirkland. Wilson is joined by, from left, Kirkland City Councilman Dave Asher, Google employee Chee Chew, Councilman Jay Arnold, Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen and Councilwoman Doreen Marchione.
— image credit: TJ Martinell, Kirkland Reporter

Google celebrated its 10th Anniversary in Kirkland by announcing a $200,000 grant to provide free Wi-Fi to two city parks.

The Google grant to the city will provide free wireless Internet for residents at Everest Park and Houghton Beach Park. The announcement was made by Chee Chew, VP engineering site lead, during their anniversary celebration at the Google Campus Oct. 1. Chew said the work had started as soon as the announcement was made.

Brenda Cooper, chief information officer for the city of Kirkland, said they plan to have the wireless Internet available in the parks by next spring.

“The Google donation will fill a strong and often requested need in the city and represents the close partnership between the city and Google,” she said.

The network will be owned and operated by the city. The grant will cover the city’s costs of installing and maintaining the equipment for three years. The city already offers free wireless network in downtown and at Peter Kirk and Marina parks.

With the growing use of iPads and other electronic tablets, Chew said the free Wi-Fi at parks enable people to better communicate with each other wherever they are, even when watching their child play baseball.

“Our mission is to organize,” he said. “We have a philosophy on community. The parks are the places where the community comes together.”

Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen, while proclaiming Oct. 1, 2014 as Google Day, remarked that having Google in Kirkland was like having a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

“Magical and wonderful things happen here,” she said.

When the company first opened its doors back in 2004, in order to build its own tool bar feature in response to Internet Explorer, it had six employees. Based in California, the company hired them to work together on the project.

The workers, however, weren’t willing to make the move to Mountain View, Calif., where the Googleplex is located. As a result, Google set up an office for the team in Kirkland.

During the decade since, Google has gone from six to 1,400 full-time employees in the state. Having built one campus in the Moss Bay neighborhood off of 6th Street South, they are currently adding a second campus site adjacent to it in anticipation of an additional 1,000 workers.

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