Gastonia names new Parks and Recreation director

Cam Carpenter stands next to Sims Legion Park sign

The next director of the City of Gastonia’s Parks and Recreation Department is a familiar face at local parks and community centers. Assistant Director Cam Carpenter has been promoted to the department’s top job, replacing Chuck Dellinger who retired March 31.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Carpenter said. “I was born and raised in Gastonia, and I’ve been involved in the City’s recreational programs since I was about 5 years old.”

Carpenter has worked in recreation for 27 years, starting at age 15 as a scorekeeper and member of the field crew for Gastonia’s Parks Department. A graduate of Appalachian State University, he was employed by the Cramerton Parks Department for 25 years and worked his way up to director. In 2016, Carpenter became assistant director of Gastonia’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The new parks director said he’s looking forward to projects such as FUSE, a new playground at Rankin Lake Park and other renovations and remodeling projects planned at local parks. But Carpenter said he’s most excited about developing the department’s master plan. “With a lot of community input, we’ll be laying out the framework of what we want for the next 10 years in our parks, recreation programs, facilities and staffing,” he said. “We will be asking residents what they want.”

Assistant City Manager Melody Braddy described Carpenter as “a great fit for Gastonia because he grew up in this community.” She emphasized his experience in planning, grant writing, project management, collaboration and leadership. “Having served as the assistant director for Parks and Recreation has given him the experience and the opportunity to be successful,” she said.

Carpenter described his former boss, Dellinger, as a “mentor, friend and partner” and said he knows he can pick up the phone and call Dellinger whenever he needs to. Dellinger retired after working nearly 39 years for Gastonia’s Parks Department.

Carpenter serves on the Gaston County Parks and Recreation Board, Crowders Mountain State Park Board and Gaston County Travel and Tourism Board. He and his wife have two children.