Juniper Valley Park

Bohan Hockey Rink

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Firefighter James Bohan (1973-1998) is remembered for his bravery. He died fighting a fire on December 18, 1998, at the Vandalia Senior Housing Complex in Brooklyn. Bohan perished with fellow firefighters Joseph Cavalieri and Christopher Bopp as they tried to rescue a resident who had already escaped the blaze. The cause of the fire remains unknown, but it is likely that a resident's cigarette was responsible, and the building's sprinkler system, for unknown reasons, had been shut off. The tragic event is also remembered with a park named for firefighter Christopher Bopp, in Brooklyn, near his home.

James Bohan grew up in Middle Village, and he and his friends often to Juniper Valley Park to play. He had a ready love for children, and it was always in evidence. One Memorial Day, for instance, at the Irish Festival in East Durham, Bohan bought out a balloon stand's entire supply and distributed the balloons to all the children at the fair with the help of his friends. On the day before his death, he and other firefighters walked the halls of Brookdale Hospital, and handed out toys to sick children. New York City remembers his kindness, heroism, and sacrifice.

This rink is located in Juniper Valley Park, 55 acres of open space that takes its name from the Juniper Valley Swamp, which once covered an area of about 100 acres from Caldwell Avenue south to Juniper Valley Road. A thick forest of juniper (Juniperus communis) and white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) trees blanketed the swamp and the surrounding area. Before the 1940s, when the site was improved for its current recreational purposes, it was used as a farm, a cemetery, a source for peat moss, and a garbage dump. Arnold Rothstein (1882-1928), the man accused of fixing the 1919 World Series, owned this land at one time. The city acquired the property from his estate in the 1930s as part of a settlement over back taxes.

The Bohan Memorial Hockey Rink features two grandstands and a drinking fountain. The community, particularly the Middle Village Hockey League, uses it extensively. It will be enjoyed by children for years to come, a fitting tribute to the memory of James Bohan.

Directions to Juniper Valley Park

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