Today in New West news: CenturyLink to buy Level 3 Communications for $25B, Missoula’s old parking meters being sold, and charting Casper, WY’s future.
According to the Denver Post, Monroe, Louisiana-based CenturyLink Inc. announced earlier today it would be buying Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications Inc. for approximately $25 billion in cash and stocks—a strategy aimed at giving both companies “more heft to weather a competitive landscape.” From the Post:
Level 3 runs one of the largest internet backbones in the world but has turned its focus increasingly to small and midsize business in an attempt to reverse slowing sales growth in its core business. CenturyLink, traditionally a rural local-phone-service provider, has sought to upgrade its network with fiber-optic lines in a bid to compete with AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and rivals in the cable industry.
CenturyLink gets about two-thirds of its revenue from business customers, while Level 3’s comes entirely from that segment.
Under the deal’s terms, CenturyLink agreed to swap $26.50 in cash and 1.4286 CenturyLink share for each share of Level 3. The company said the deal was worth $34 billion, including debt, and is expected to close by the third quarter of 2017.
CenturyLink Chief Executive Glen Post will lead the combined company, and Level 3’s chief financial officer, Sunit Patel, will serve as financial chief of the combined firm.
The chairman of CenturyLink’s board at the time of the closing will continue to serve as chairman of the combined company. CenturyLink has agreed to appoint four Level 3 Board members at closing.
The combined company will be based in Monroe, La., and will maintain a significant presence in Colorado and the Denver metropolitan area.
Over in Montana, according to the Missoulian, you may be able to own a unique piece of city history soon—in the form of 500 some old parking meters, pushed into obsolescence by the installation of numerous digital multi-space meters:
For prices ranging from $50 to $200, you can own a part of Missoula’s past through a fundraising enterprise launched recently by the Downtown Missoula Partnership. That’s the arm of the Missoula Downtown Foundation charged with promoting the spirit and heritage of downtown through cultural, historical and economic enhancement. It’s the office that sees that the holiday decorations are put up and has to find a way to pay for a $35,000 canopy at Caras Park to replace one that’s five years past its 15-year lifespan.
“We started selling the old meters a week and a half ago and we just hit $3,600, so we’re really happy with that and optimistic,” Will Greenway, community development director, said Friday.
Most of the high-end meters – double-headed ones with decorative poles that go for $200 – seem to attract car enthusiasts and mechanics, Greenway said.
“I’ve seen them used as table lamps and made into piggy banks,” retired parking director Anne Guest said. “I’ve seen a metered flower garden, where the meters are all at different levels and painted like tulips or daffodils; for art projects … There are all kinds of wonderful ideas.”
The most unorthodox use so far is by a woman from Washington who put in an order for a meter after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She told Greenway that she wants her ashes to go inside the meter with its red flag showing, reading “Time Expired.”
Several meters are in the hands of a handful of artists lined up by Arts Missoula. They’re being stripped, painted and “turned into cool-looking art pieces” to go into a parking meter art garden, Greenway said. A location, whether on private or public grounds, has yet to be found.
The goal for the sales is $35,000 but “even if we hit 10 grand, that would be great,” Greenway said.
To get one for your home, garden, garage or cremation urn, visit the Downtown Missoula Partnership office at 218 E. Main St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Check out missouladowntown.com or contact Greenway at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the Downtown Missoula Partnership, 406-543-4238.
The meters, manufactured by Duncan Industries Inc. of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, were first installed in the late 1940s.
Finally, over in Wyoming, according to the Casper Star Tribune, “Generation Casper,” an initiative from the city planning department, has been soliciting feedback from citizens since June to help determine the city’s future. Indeed, per city planner Craig Collins, Casper is working off a 16-year-old city plan; most city land use plans are updated every five to ten years. From the Tribune:
While sometimes buried in bureaucratic jargon, comprehensive land use plans are one of the most tangible expressions of how local government affects the daily lives of residents. Individual planning decisions are approved on a case-by-case basis, while the comprehensive plan outlines development priorities and big-picture goals.
At a public feedback session held this month at Imitate the Image Church, residents had a chance to outline their visions for a future Casper.
“I want to see more stuff done with north Casper,” said Rev. William Pierce. “Come up with some ideas — walkways, splash pads, parks.”
Pierce and the assembled crowd of a couple of dozen residents wrote their ideas on large notepads and used markers to draw on huge maps of the city, highlighting where they wanted to see change.
On hand to listen and facilitate the discussion were Collins, fellow Casper city planner Aaron Kloke and representatives from the Fort Collins, Colorado, planning firm Logan Simpson, which is assisting the city.
“We’re working really hard to make sure this plan doesn’t just sit on a shelf,” Bruce Meighen of Logan Simpson told the crowd. “What do you love about Casper? Why are you here? Why did you move to Casper?”
Much of the feedback centered on north Casper, but people offered a wide range of ideas: tear down abandoned houses, stop the basketball courts from being vandalized, convert abandoned public schools into low-income housing for seniors, increase food choices and make sure there’s affordable childcare for working parents.
In December the public feedback will start being drafted into a formal plan that can be adopted by the summer.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had as much public input,” Collins said.
He said that while the city may have some of its own ideas for what makes an effective comprehensive plan, the public has the final say.
“Our job is to present all sides of the argument,” Collins said. “We have to be real careful about listening and not trying to guide people into the direction we think they should go.”
Sometimes that is a challenge, Collins acknowledged. For example, several studies have shown that narrow streets protect pedestrians who are less likely to be struck by cars on them and more likely to survive if they are hit. But when the city mandated narrower streets in some new east-side developments, residents rebelled.
“The culture here is everyone has a big vehicle; everyone wants to park in front of their house,” Collins said.
The only place Collins said the city couldn’t compromise was on building codes covering safety issues like electrical wiring and fire exits.
Other challenges Generation Casper seeks to address is a dire but perennial one: how to keep the younger generation invested in the city’s future.