A Bay Ridge family is hoping to have a new neighborhood dog park named in honor of their father, Frank Decolvenaere, who was struck and killed by a reckless driver while out walking his four-legged friend in March 2020.
Decolvenaere was headed home after a walk with family dog Stormy on March 5 when he was hit by a teen driver near the corner of Fourth Avenue and 101st Street. The 66-year-old died on impact and Stormy — who was also injured in the accident — managed to make it home 10 blocks to alert Decolvenaere’s wife, Demetra.
With work on the coming Shore Road dog park finally underway, locals such as area Councilmember Justin Brannan are pushing to honor the avid dog-lover and sorely missed community member.
“Frank was a beloved husband, father, dog-lover, and neighbor, and a retired attorney who lived in New York City his entire life,” Brannan wrote in a letter to Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher. “He and his wife Demetra were well-known among neighbors and local business owners – they constantly patronized our neighborhood establishments and could be seen several times a day walking their dog, Stormy, near John Paul Jones Park, which is just down the street from their home.”
Brannan added the Decolvenaere‘s death served as a “wake-up call” for the entire community.
“Frank’s tragic death served as a wakeup call for pedestrian safety in the neighborhood,” Brannan wrote in his letter to Maher. “Immediately following the incident, neighbors raised tens of thousands of dollars for life-saving surgery for Stormy – a majority of which the family has in turn donated to charity.”
“He passed away doing what he loved, walking his dog,” Decolvenaere’s son Michael told Brooklyn Paper. “So it definitely really resonated with us when the councilman reached out about this opportunity.”
While they know nothing can replace him, the family says the renaming would be an amazing way to keep Decolvenaere’s legacy alive within the neighborhood.
“It’s hard to say if my dad would have loved this,” Michael said, “but I think it’s the best way to honor him in this community and also bring awareness to the reality of the situation.”
The Decolvenaere family will now bring their proposal before local leaders at the next Community Board 10 meeting, where they hope to receive approval.
“We all miss my father more than I’m sure you could imagine. It’s hard but having that reminder of him in the community would mean a lot,” Michael said.
The city’s Parks Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.