Dave Smith is retiring as parks and recreation director for the city of Havelock.

Dave Smith is ready for a new adventure.

The Havelock Parks and Recreation director said that he plans to retire at the end of the month.

Smith, 53, has worked 12 years as the recreation director after previously working in the recreation department in Mecklenburg County, accumulating enough time to retire under state government rules.

“For me, it’s been an adventure and a real learning experience,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of great people that I’ve met and I think if there’s anything that I’d go out with, it’s the people that we dealt with and the friends that we made and the relationships. That’s the way it is with any career, but especially parks and recreation. I guess that’s the meat and potatoes and bread and everything else in between of a parks and recreation career, the relationships that you build. Those will stay with me forever.”

He and his wife Rosie are planning a move to South Carolina, Virginia or Tennessee, where he said he may consider another parks and recreation job until he reaches his retirement age of 65. He would not be eligible for full-time government work in North Carolina as a state retiree. He said he hopes to be close to Charlotte near his grandchildren.

Havelock City Manager Frank Bottorff described Smith as “an excellent director” of the recreation department, “and more importantly a great person.”

“Dave is a quiet professional who epitomizes the best aspects of local government in eastern North Carolina,” Bottorff said.

As parks and recreation director, Smith was in charge of managing the city’s parks and ball fields as well as the Havelock Senior Center. Additionally, he planned and implemented programs for the city, coordinated with youth sports programs and tournaments, and oversaw a staff of about 12 people with a department budget approaching $1 million.

“As you lose somebody as important as Dave is to the city of Havelock, there’s two parts of it,” said Bottorff. “One is planning for the future and really concentrating on trying to do the best you can to replace somebody who has as much experience and as much value as Dave does. And the other part is just properly sending off Dave, who has just meant so much to the city and frankly done so much for the citizens.

“We can’t thank him enough. Replacing somebody like that is going to be a task in itself. Dave’s an all-star. He has been a great part of the city. He has been a great part of the community, and we’re hoping to find somebody that even comes close to having the positive impact that he has had.”

Smith’s replacement has not yet been hired. A notice advertising the position lists a starting annual salary of between $54,548 and $88,129.