Gregory Bayor had been charged with implementing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's plan to overhaul the city's 55 rec centers by expanding and improving some while handing over others to private groups, and closing some if necessary.
He will become the director of recreation and parks in Tampa, Fla., where he will earn $132,000 in his new position, according to news reports. His salary in Baltimore is $127,500.
Rawlings-Blake praised Bayor for increasing morale in the department.
He "has laid significant groundwork, creating new public-private partnerships with local businesses, foundations, and community organizations that will strengthen recreational opportunities for Baltimore going forward," the mayor said in a statement.
Bayor, 63, was the 15th director to lead the recreation and parks department in the past two decades.
He was one of Rawlings-Blake's first high-profile appointments after she became mayor in 2010. At the time, she declared his hire "a new day for Baltimore's youth."
Bayor is the latest of a string of high-level officials to announce their departure from the Rawlings-Blake administration.
Deputy Mayor Christopher Thomaskutty, finance director Edward Gallagher, Baltimore Development Corp. president M. J. "Jay" Brodie, minority and women's business director Shirley Williams and chief information officer Rico Singleton have left or declared plans to leave in recent months.
Bill Vondrasek, the parks director, will serve as the department's interim director beginning April 6, the mayor's office said.