A William Thornton type of floating bar and restaurant will be coming to the U.S. Virgin Islands, if Delbert Parsons and Curtis Penn of WT Enterprises LLC get the go-ahead from the St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee.
The St. John men are requesting a major water permit to install mooring buoys and an 80-foot floating dock in Christmas Cove off-shore of privately-owned Great St. James. The St. Thomas CZM Committee will host a public hearing on the request on Tuesday, March 4, at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Cyril E. King Airport.
Parsons and Penn, along with three other “behind the scenes” partners, purchased the 115-foot Chesapeake Bay day oyster boat replica Leylon Sneed two years ago with the idea of making it a destination in the U.S.V.I.
“This is what we had in mind two years ago when we bought the boat,” said Penn. “We were inspired by the Willy T. There are not a lot of boating destinations here in the USVI, so I really think we need this.”
“I used to own Ocean Runner and everyone who rented a boat wanted to go to the Willy T,” said Parsons. “And now we can have our very own draw here in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Causal Pub Dining
If approved, the three-floor floating establishment will offer casual pub food like grilled fish, chicken and burgers, several bars including a mahogany bar, a top-of-the-line sound system and a gift shop, explained Parsons.
The business partners selected Christmas Cove as the location because it offers a secure anchorage and top-notch snorkeling, according to Penn.
“There is a lot of boating traffic there and great snorkeling,” Penn said. “It’s a good vantage point and really the only place around here to make this happen.”
“The harbor is perfect for this,” said Parsons. “The harbor is safe and protected.”
Since territorial waters are owned by all V.I. residents, major water permits must get approval from the island CZM Committee as well as legislative and executive branch approval. Penn and Parsons began the lengthy permitting process last year and have completed extensive environmental assessments.
Environmental Testing Complete
“We hired BioImpact which surveyed the area and did all the environmental tests,” said Parsons. “They have endorsed this project. The moorings and the dock are a good ways off-shore and won’t disturb sea grass or coral.”
“We’ve got all the safety measures,” said Penn. “We’re doing everything to protect the environment.”
Many local boaters, especially charter boat captains tired of spending time in both BVI and USVI Customs offices, are in favor of the floating Leylon Sneed, Penn added.
No Need to Leave USVI
“There are a lot of people who travel here and don’t bring their passports,” said Penn. “And people shouldn’t be looking to leave the USVI for entertainment. Now they don’t have to.”
“The Coast Guard is behind us 100 percent too,” added Parsons.
If approved, the floating Leylon Sneed would be open for business in Christmas Cove within six months, according to Parsons.
In the meantime, the vessel hosts snorkeling trips, wedding parties and sunset cruises for up to 150 people four to five days a week.
Penn and Parsons are hoping a large contingent of Love City residents come out to show support for the project at the public hearing in St. Thomas. To make it easier for residents to attend, the business partners are arranging transportation all the way from St. John to the St. Thomas airport.
Anyone who is not sure about supporting the project should sign up for a tentative test run, explained Penn.
“We’re going to do a test run kind of thing on Sunday, February 17,” he said. “We want to have a party out there and show people how beautiful it is and how much fun this is going to be.”
To sign up for the Parsons and Penn arranged transportation to the public hearing or for the Leylon Sneed test run party, call 998-0369 or 690-6049.
Following the public hearing, the St. Thomas CZM Committee will conduct a decision hearing on Penn and Parsons’ request Wednesday, March 26, at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Cyril E. King Airport. If the permit it approved, it will then go before the governor and the senate for approval.
“We really want our supports from St. John to come over to the meeting and be behind us,” said Parsons.
Guest Apearance by Zues?
A guest appearance from a famous Willy T bartender should put to rest any lingering questions about how much fun the Leylon Sneed would be as a floating bar and restaurant, added Penn.
“We’re really trying to get Zues to come over and bartend some,” Penn said.