Kids spent decades playing in lead-tainted Harlem building

Harlem kids have spent the past decade playing in a state-owned building now targeted for a $2.2 million lead cleanup and they’re still romping around there — as officials refuse to reveal any details about the potentially dangerous situation.

The state has already begun paying a New Jersey company to clean out toxic lead from the Harlem Armory on West 143rd Street, where the Harlem Children’s Zone says it runs health, fitness and performing-arts programs for more than 1,000 kids a week.

But state officials won’t outline their remediation plan, reveal what part or parts of the building the lead is located in or even say whether it’s in the paint, munitions or in some other form.

“Materials found for decades in hundreds of aging National Guard armories across the nation resulted in a 2016 Federal National Guard Bureau directive mandating that those materials be removed,” a spokesman for the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs said in a brief statement to The Post.

The lack of details angered parents taking their kids to play at the armory Sunday.

“I had no idea they had lead in the building,” said Alexander Karev, 61, as he dropped his 9-year-old daughter off for tennis practice at the facility. “I think they should inform us.”

Local political leaders also were fuming.

“I did not know they were doing lead removal at the armory — we should have known that they were doing it,” seethed state Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, whose district includes the military facility.

“It’s disappointing because of the environmental impact that lead could have on senior citizens as well as children,” she said, vowing to begin making inquiries about the issue Monday.

Even the leadership at Harlem Children’s Zone said they had no idea the building had lead in it until contacted by The Post.

Judith Enck, a former regional director of the US Environmental Protection Agency, questioned why it’s taken two years for the state to act on the clean-up.

“It’s amazing they’re just getting to it now,” she said.

It was unclear whether any of the youth programs at the site would be paused during the lead cleanup, but Enck said they should be.

“You don’t want a whole bunch of kids running if there is lead abatement going on,” she said.

Even small amounts of lead can be dangerous for children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Police Athletic League renovated a portion of the 50,000-square-foot former military facility into a community center in 2006 using money from the city, state and feds.

The armory was once home to the Harlem Hellfighters — one of the first all-black infantry regiments to fight in WWI.

The state was equally mum on an up-to-$9-million lead-abatement project it plans to undertake at the 69th Regiment Armory at Lexington Avenue. Officials are still accepting bids for that project but would not give details or answer questions about the scope.

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