Google, city of Mountain View hold ceremony for multi-million dollar wetland project

Google and the city of Mountain View Thursday celebrated the end of a multi-million dollar project with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the wetland area called the Charleston Retention Basin.

The Mountain View property is just shy of six acres and nestled between several Google buildings northeast of North Shoreline Boulevard and Charleston Road.

Google paid $10.5 million to restore the city-owned property.

"Sustainability in the environment is very important to us," said Javier Gonzalez, Google's Public Affairs Manager.

Google also added two pedestrian bridges along with a bike and pedestrian path that allows its employees to walk between campuses, instead of walking on the street.

"Yes, it does benefit Google, but it also benefits the wildlife, the birds, the people who come out here to enjoy it," said Mountain View Mayor Lisa Matichak.

The project started three years ago and had the support of several environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Audubon Society.

"We're taking their input and making sure we're designing not only our buildings, but also other community public spaces in a way that provides ecological value," said Gonzalez.

The Mountain View-based company says as part of the project, it planted 1,800 native trees and shrubs and two acres of willow forest were restored. Some people were upset Google removed 119 large trees including redwoods for the project.

"Redwoods don't have a huge ecological value in this area. They are very important where they are native, but they are not native to North Bayshore," said Shani Kleinhaus, an environmental advocate with Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.

Kleinhaus, who has served as a consultant with Google on other projects, says the tech giant took comments from multiple environmental groups which led to the company removing 130 parking spaces and altering their construction based on the native species.

"So they only did construction work during the non-nesting season and they didn't intrude at all into the nesting season. That was very important to us," said Kleinhaus.

The area is accessible to the public, but surrounded by Google-owned parking lots.