John Z. Gault (March 23, 1870 - 1954) is credited for the creation of Riverside Park and Frog Island Park, together the heart of Ypsilanti's municipal park system, and the sites of many festivals and special events throughout the summer.
Gault moved from Detroit to Ypsilanti in 1907, establishing a dairy farm on Emerick Road, in Ypsilanti Township. (The name continues in Gault Village Shopping Center, on the south side of I-94.) He served as Park Commissioner from 1926 to 1932, and again from 1940-1943.
In 1934, Gault and others negotiated the purchase of Frog Island Park from the Detroit Edison subsidiary Huron Farms Corporation; the park was provided to the school district as an athletic field until Ypsilanti High School moved from its nearby location to its current address on the edge of town.
Riverside Park took more effort: ownership of the land was split between the various businesses and residents on Huron Street, whose property extended across the floodplain to the Huron River in ribbons. Over time, Gault was able to assemble the parkland from its multiple owners, leveraging funds from civic groups such as Kiwanis and Rotary to clear and landscape the park.
- James Mann, "Historically Speaking: His vision created parks", Ypsilanti Community News, 29 July, 2007. http://www.mlive.com/news/annarbornews/index.ssf?/base/news-4/1185693010237380.xml&coll=2
1912: John Gault (See Gault farm, now Gault Village, on 1915 and 1934 maps).