Billy Joel will permanently close out New York’s famed Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with a concert Tuesday night, but the Piano Man singer, a Long Island icon himself, has state lawmakers split over a bill that would name a nearby street after him. Plans to rename a stretch of Route 107 in Hicksville, New York “Billy Joel Boulevard” was met with some opposition as politicians quarreled about giving Joel what is usually reserved as a posthumous honor, the Associated Press reports.
No one in the state Senate and assembly argues the merits of Joel being honored with a street flowing through his childhood hometown; the politicians involved agree that Joel’s achievements and standing in the region warrant the distinction. Instead, lawmakers are grappling about when to rebrand the street “Billy Joel Boulevard.”
“It’s more of a philosophical discussion… I don’t think it has anything to do with Billy Joel,” state senator Jack Martins told AP. “This is a man who has sold 150 million albums and still lives in the area.” Assemblywoman Deborah Glick argued against renaming Route 107 now, “It’s a posthumous honor. It’s so future generations know about their contributions. Obviously people today are fully aware who Billy Joel is.”
However, as supporters of “Billy Joel Boulevard” noted, former New York City mayor Ed Koch and former governor Hugh Carey were both alive when major New York thoroughfares – the Queensboro Bridge and the Battery Tunnel, respectively – were named after the prominent politicians.
Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who officiated Joel’s July 4th wedding to wife Alexis Roderick, also voiced his support for “Billy Joel Boulevard,” calling Joel “an iconic New Yorker.” “It would be fitting for his name to grace a street of Long Island, a place he has dedicated so much to and proudly calls home,” Cuomo said.