BOSTON — In a city obsessed with history and the ocean, it would seem that a festival celebrating its maritime heritage would be greeted with open arms. Instead, it has stirred up another Boston tradition, the political drama.
On Wednesday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino told Sail Boston, local organizers of an international regatta of tall ships, that he would not support this year’s event unless the organization submitted a plan detailing how it intended to pay for an estimated $2 million in public safety, trash pickup and other city service costs.
The decision came one day after the organization failed to meet its deadline for the plan.
“We’re not going to participate if we can’t get a plan” for how the city will be reimbursed, said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mr. Menino.
Organizers for the July event, in which 50 tall ships from 20 countries will sail into Boston Harbor and dock for five days, said the ships would come to Boston anyway. They are trying to come up with a reimbursement plan and are working to raise money for the extravaganza, which is expected to draw 800,000 people to the waterfront.
“The ships are sailing in the race,” said David Choate, a project manager for Sail Boston. “Rather than send a plan that is not fully developed, we made sure we took our time and met with the appropriate people to develop a plan that would be reasonable.”
Mr. Choate said organizers would consider cutting back on some events, including the Parade of Ships, historically the most-attended attraction. Sail Boston is expected to cost up to $4 million. Organizers have raised “over $1 million,” Mr. Choate said.