Merivale Community Centre staff are often forced to turn children away from their free after-school programme when they reach capacity.
Staff say it is heartbreaking and the demand only highlighted the need for a bigger, safer, fit-for-purpose facility.
Tauranga City Council approved $1.16 million for a new community centre in 2017 and due to resource consent delays and other complexities the project was now expected to be completed by December 2022.
According to the council, setbacks had also been caused by the involvement of a number of stakeholders and external agencies.
But Merivale Community Centre chairman Chris Rapson said the new centre needed to be up-and-running for community use as soon as possible, as the current centre was not fit for purpose.
It would provide a "safe space" for Merivale youth.
Rapson believed the project would be about one year ahead of schedule if the council had granted resource consent earlier. It was granted in June last year.
"Some of the council processes brought about a delay that was very frustrating at the time. These important projects in our community can't really be held back by bureaucracy."
So far it had funding for about half of the project, with a total budget of about $4.5m, he said.
"The overarching response has been 'it's about time'. Everyone recognises that with a decent building we can actually deliver the optimism and hope we need to put into the community.
Merivale Community Incorporated had already completed community consultation and was currently working with local iwi.
Tauranga City Council's general manager of community service Gareth Wallis said the project would support Merivale residents' quality of life.
"This has been a complex project involving multiple parcels of land, stopping a road and numerous stakeholders and agencies, which means it has taken time to be considered and processed," he said.
Delays in obtaining additional information from the applicant also held up the process, he said.
The design of the new building and provision of car parking meant there was no outdoor space leftover, so the council bought a neighbouring site for the centre's use. Council would work with local community members to develop it into a reserve space.
Merivale Community Centre acting general manager Julie Watson said she was regularly forced to turn children away from the free after-school drop-in when they reached capacity. This happened when the number of students exceeded the student-to-staff ratios.
"It's really hard to turn them away. It's just such a highlight for them to come here."
A larger facility with dedicated space for children was needed, she said.
Merivale Community Centre youth worker Rachael Wilson said the current building was "tired" and "bursting at the seams".
"We need more space to hold all these programmes. The building is absolutely not meeting demands," she said.
"We need a bigger space that would allow for more staff, so the community won't see we have these ratios. It should be easy to come in and out the door."
She said the kids would self-refer to the after-school service, with most attending by choice.
"They are all so keen to come. It is the kids that drive themselves here."
Merivale resident Sibylle Steppat has been heavily involved with the community centre for the past eight years.
She runs a regular walking group, strength and balance classes for the elderly and a coffee group at the centre.
Steppat said it was "unbelievable" how the centre staff managed the small space available to them.
Running the strength and balance class proved difficult at times as they shared the space with rangatahi after school, she said.
"That house is a family home. It is not built as a community centre," she said. "The staff are so good but a new community centre will be so beneficial.
"It will lift the spirit of the community."
Meanwhile, Rapson was sure completion of the centre would bring about a powerful change in the community.
"These kids, they are fantastic. And they deserve just as much opportunity as anybody else.
"When you think about it, we live in one of the most affluent centres in the country, and yet we have this area of deprivation right in the heart of our town. How can we sit and allow that to happen? We really need to make a difference."
The Whare Manaakitia Trust would own the building while Merivale Community Incorporated would run the programmes. Council would maintain ownership of the land.
The community centre, which was founded in 1993, also provides a range of social services including counselling, GP clinics, access to social workers and budgeting advice.
The current building had been in use for more than 25 years. It would be demolished and rebuilt at a Kesteven Ave site.
Do you call your suburb Parkvale or Merivale?
Probably Parkvale. I moved here a year ago and that's just what people seem to call it.
I call it Merivale. I don't like the name Parkvale. As far as I am concerned, it is Merivale. I have lived here for 26 years.
Merivale, all day every day. I was born and bred here, and it has always been Merivale.
I used to call it Merivale, but then I heard they changed it so I started calling it Parkvale. Merivale suits the area better.
I used to call it Merivale but I call it Parkvale now. I think I have just come accustomed to it.