2017-11-23 / News

Club members still hope to remain active

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer


Rochambeau Club President George Worthley said that while the property on South Street should be sold by February, the club itself will live on. Worthley planned to contact other local organizations to inquire about a meeting space for Rochambeau Club members. Worthley has been club president for 16 years and said he’ll miss being able to help residents use the club’s space for weddings and fundraisers. The club’s last dance is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27. (Grant McPherson photo) Rochambeau Club President George Worthley said that while the property on South Street should be sold by February, the club itself will live on. Worthley planned to contact other local organizations to inquire about a meeting space for Rochambeau Club members. Worthley has been club president for 16 years and said he’ll miss being able to help residents use the club’s space for weddings and fundraisers. The club’s last dance is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27. (Grant McPherson photo) BIDDEFORD – While the sale of the Rochambeau Club’s property won’t be finalized for another three months, the club’s president is hopeful the deal will come through and the club can remain active.

The club posted an announcement to its Facebook page on Thursday, Nov. 16 that the facility is under contract. Rochambeau Club President George Worthley said the buyer is a local organization but did not wish to give more information without its permission. Worthley said he hopes to sell as much as he can, including tables, chairs, a pool table, kitchenware, table settings, poker tables, casino equipment and beer coolers among many things. He encouraged interested buyers to come to the club hall at 329 South St. to discuss price and see everything that is available. Anything that isn’t sold will be left at the hall for the buyer because club members don’t have enough storage space. Aside from the bar, which is engraved with names of members who have made significant donations, just about everything else is up for grabs.


Many items are for sale at the South Street property including, tables, chairs, kitchen ware, beer coolers, casino equipment and much more. Club President George Worthley suggested anyone interested in purchasing the club’s items should stop by and look in person. Worthley can be reached at 283-3833. (Grant McPherson photo) Many items are for sale at the South Street property including, tables, chairs, kitchen ware, beer coolers, casino equipment and much more. Club President George Worthley suggested anyone interested in purchasing the club’s items should stop by and look in person. Worthley can be reached at 283-3833. (Grant McPherson photo) “We’re not trying to make a killing on anything,” Worthley said. “We want to get everything out of here the best we can.”

About 20 people commented on the post expressing interest in the items for sale. Delilah Poupore, executive director of the Heart of Biddeford, commented to ask about the casino tables.

“I was thinking that could make for a fun event,” she wrote in an email The Courier.

The club has been on the market for about three years and was originally listed for $675,000. The most recent listing posted for the building was $485,000. The property is assessed at $553,900 and would pay an annual property tax of $11,116.77 if it weren’t a nonprofit. The 10,584 square-foot hall was built in 1968 and is on 4 acres of land.

Worthley said that as long as the buyer’s financing is accepted, the hall should be sold by the end of February or beginning of March.

“We sold it for less than originally asked for, considerably less,” he said. “This zoning killed us. A couple organizations were willing to pay top dollar but because of the zoning and what they wanted to do in the location they weren’t allowed to.”

The property is in an R3 mixed residential zone that does not allow commercial or retail operations. However, housing and storage uses are both acceptable.

Worthley has looked at new locations for the Rochambeau Club but hasn’t chosen anything yet. He said he hopes the club will remain active in the meantime, and plans to ask other local organizations such as the Biddeford Eagles and the York County Veterans Alliance for access to their facilities. The Rochambeau Club’s charter will remain active as long as 15 members continue to pay dues and the club pays union fees, which are about $50 per year. Worthley said about 300 members pay their dues each year.

“We can meet anywhere as long as I have my charter,” Worthley said. “Once a month we can have a meeting to keep things going and keep people active so it doesn’t fizzle out. I want to keep people involved and discuss fundraisers so we can buy another place. I don’t want it to dissolve.”

Last year Worthley hired local tribute bands to play shows at the club, which helped cover expenses for a few months but ultimately didn’t generate enough income. He said right now he’s struggling to afford heating oil for the winter, not to mention routine maintenance and insurance costs. While Worthley hopes to find a new location for the club, he said it won’t be soon.

“I wouldn’t expect anything for at least three years,” he said. “It depends on what we find and what we can raise for money. I’ve inquired some places but leasing is unbelievably high. We have to look at all avenues and make sure we generate enough income to support it or we’re going to be in the same spot we are now.”

Worthley said in years past the club had weddings booked every weekend. Now the club is lucky if it has two weddings per month. He said younger people lately would rather rent a barn or farmhouse as opposed to a hall.

“We have a lot of small functions but we charge so little for rent it doesn’t generate enough income to support us.”

The club still hosts spaghetti suppers every third Thursday and bingo on Friday nights. However, Worthley said he’ll miss hosting charity events the most. For more than a decade, Chelsea’s Chance, a nonprofit that donates to Aicardi syndrome patients in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, has held a dance at the Rochambeau Club. Worthley said Chelsea’s Chance and many other organizations will have to find another venue, but there are few other options that can accommodate a large number of people and parking.

“There’s nobody else to help these people out,” he said. “It’s sad. For the first time in 16 years I have to tell people, ‘I can’t help you.’”

The club’s last day open is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27 and Worthley hopes to hold one last dance at the current facility.

“We haven’t set in stone who’s going to perform,” he said. “But we’ll have minimal ticket prices to fill the place up. Hopefully people come say one last goodbye to the Rochambeau Club.”

For more information call the Rochambeau Club at 283- 3833.

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com

Return to top